Our Fieldnotes section highlights notable ephemera and other materials — photographs, posters, artwork, event documentation, social media campaigns, and beyond  — encountered during our research that document the experiences of diverse disabled people during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Please note: this page displays notes in a random order each time it is loaded or refreshed.

A community memorial featuring images and text attached to a tree, with a large pile of flowers placed at the base of the tree

In Memory of Lives Lost

This is a picture of an ad-hoc memorial to Christina Yuna Lee, outside of the Chrystie Street apartment building where she died. Her murder has been reported as both part of a rising tide of anti-Asian violence in New York City and part of the uniquely gendered violence that Asian women, in…...

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A tweet showing protestors in Albany, The texts from Kendra Scalia and Audrey Sasson read that 22 of them got arrested.

Fair Pay for Home Care

The pandemic has the existing hardships that afflict the home care workers, forcing them to leave to seek better paying jobs, causing a devastating shortage in home services which continues to grow. An alliance of senior, disability, and family care organizations as well as advocates formed and demanded that the…...

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Linoleum block print of black and white sunflowers with yellow petals growing on either side of the words “Disabled people deserve to live” in dark green lettering.

Roan Boucher (AORTA): Disabled People Deserve to Live

From AORTA’s Instagram: Ableism has informed the US’s pandemic response since the beginning. Last week, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky cited the “encouraging” data that the majority of Covid deaths are in those with 4 or more pre-existing medical conditions. This statement and its phrasing lay bare what disabled people have…...

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Screenshot of tweet from @KateMcWilli that says: "We are all talking about how it feels to see ableds accommodating themselves with the the accessibility that we disabled people fight for every day, all because of #COVIDー19. Let's use the hashtag #AccessiblilityForAbleds when we talk about this. I want to hear your thoughts!"


On March 7, 2020, as North American cities began to respond to the pandemic with remote school and work options, Canadian disability activist Kate McWilliams created the hashtag #AccessibilityForAbleds. The pandemic revealed how easy it was to provide certain accommodations that disabled and chronically ill people had been demanding, unsuccessfully, for…...

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A young man stands in a hard, hugging a rainbow umbrella

Ethan Jones’s Coming Out Ritual

Autistic activist Ethan Jones, age 26, photo by Maria Hodamarska (mother), taken June 2020. When the pandemic hit New York, the family moved to Deer Isle, Maine. While there, Ethan told us, that he had time to reflect and embrace what had been an emergent gay identity. On the last…...

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Screenshot of video featuring a Black woman speaking about her experience becoming sick with ME/CFS.

#MEAction’s “Stop. Rest. Pace.” Resources

From the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), an illness often triggered by a viral infection (such as Epstein Barr virus), were among the first to raise alarms about the possible implications of post-viral illness following acute infections. As the pandemic progressed,…...

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Social media statement with headline reading "BeyGOOD Supports Covid-19 Relief" in Black text on white background. White text on black background reads: "Communities of color are suffering by epic proportions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many families live in underserved areas with homes that make it harder to practice social distancing. Communities that were already lacking funds for education, health and housing are now faced with alarming infection rates and fatalities. And these communities lack access to testing and equitable healthcare. Beyonce's BeyGOOD is supporting organizations that are on the ground 24/7, including United Memorial Center, Bread of Life, Matthew 25 and others, to address these dire needs in some of the hardest hit areas, providing basic necessities, including food, water, cleaning supplies, medicines, face masks, and personal hygiene items. Void of these basic necessities, mental burdens are also accelerated. To address these needs BeyGOOD teams up with with Jack Dorsey's #startsmall to donate $6 million to local community-based organizations, UCLA and the National Alliance in Mental Illness (NAMI) in providing mental wellness services in Houston, New York, New Orleans and Detroit. These are unprecedented times and it will take our collective efforts to make a difference."

BeyGOOD Supports COVID-19 Relief

This is a public statement from Beyoncé Knowles-Carter’s philanthropic organization BeyGOOD, supporting Covid-19 relief for communities of color in the United States. BeyGOOD announces their partnership with Jack Dorsey’s #startsmall to donate $6 million to local community-based organizations, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) providing mental wellness services…...

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A young woman wheelchair user poses in front of a mural of outstretched wings, posing triumphantly with her hands in the air.

Samantha’s second vaccination

Samantha Myers photographed by Michelle Schwab two weeks after Samantha’s second vaccination, February 2021. Mural by Jeff Rose King on Bleecker St in Greenwich Village where Sam lives. — Faye Ginsburg

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A group of protestors stand on the sidewalk holding signs outside of MOCA

Chinese Staff and Workers’ Association Protests MOCA

Chinese Staff and Workers’ Association organized a picket line in September 2021 to protest against MOCA, which is accused of not representing the Chinatown community and “selling out” the community. Local residents, small businesses, and workers in Chinatown are severely hit by the pandemic, while gentrification worsens the living conditions…...

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A prototype for a mural with the headline "Say Their Names" featuring a Black power fist with the infinity symbol and the words “Black Disabled Lives Matter” written down the wrist of the fist. There are images that spell out "BDLM" in ASL and a list of names of Black Disabled people killed by police.

Jen White Johnson: Black Disabled Lives Matter Mural Project

Artist, designer, educator, and activist Jen White Johnson created several designs for mural projects honoring Black disabled individuals who were killed by police, as she writes: Since sharing the details of this mural, many disability collectives have reached out to me asking how they can create this mural in their…...

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Screenshot of Tweet by @SeeMiaRoll featuring a photo of Congresswoman Grace Meng appearing on MSNBC. Tweet reads: ". @Grace4NY , I am extremely disappointed in you recommending institutionalizing individuals with mental health disabilities to keep AA/PI safe on @MSNBC . I would be happy to chat with you about how this actually makes us less safe, particularly disabled AA/PI."

@SeeMiaRoll on Mental Disability and Anti-Asian Violence

Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Queens) spoke to MSNBC on February 15, 2022 about the murders of Michelle Go and Christina Yuna Lee in the context of a 339% increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans in the past year. Commenting that more than 50% of the cases in New York involved…...

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Rebelwheels appear in a collage in which she breathes fire, with multicolor hair and wearing a horned French beret with the words "resisto", "power", "heart", "mouth", "soul", "love" pasted around her.

“Disabled In NYC : #MyCovidStory”

In her blog entry “Disabled In NYC : #MyCovidStory?,” Rebelwheels NYC aka Michelle Kaplan discusses her reality during COVID as a disabled person receiving services at home, losing her usual CDPA home aides over a lack of resources, and contracting COVID from the ones sent by a more traditional agency.…...

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Downstate New York ADAPT Activists in Washington, DC

Downstate New York ADAPT activists travelled to Washington, DC on May 9 and 10, 2022, protesting in front of the Capitol to demand accessible, affordable, and integrated housing. The group challenged the nursing home industry as high cost structures with poor and dangerous clinical outcomes, as well as isolation and…...

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a poster with yellow text on a black and white mottled background reads: Remote Access: A Crip Nightlife Gathering, Sunday March 22, 5-6 pm EST

Remote Access: A Crip Nightlife Gathering

Critical Design Lab threw the first in a series of Remote Access Crip Nightlife Gatherings over Zoom on March 22, 2020. The Remote Access website explains, “Disabled people have long used remote access as a method for organizing pleasure and kinship. We call forth our community for an afternoon and…...

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Words #MyDisabledLifeIsWorthy on a Purple paper cut heart on pink background

#MyDisabledLifeIsWorthy (Jen White-Johnson remix)

On January 9, 2022, artist Jen White-Johnson created a cut paper heart design to amplify the hashtag #MyDisabledLifeIsWorthy created by Imani Barbarin (discussed in another fieldnote). Johnson tweeted: “#MyDisabledLifeIsWorthy this hashtag needs to be plastered for all the world to see.” — Mara Mills

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A tweet from Maya Contreras, a democratic candidate, relaying videos of Dustin Jones during her campaign

Subway Inaccessibility in NYC

2)I also want you to meet Dustin Jones @EqualAccessNy2 President & Founder United For Equal Access NY Inc. He is one of my disability advisers on this campaign. Here he is talking about the lack of accessible transportation in New York City. (Part 1) — Maya Contreras (@mayatcontreras) July…...

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Screenshot of a GoFundMe page for Crip Fund, with an image of a small bottle of hand sanitizer with an Ace of Cups tarot image as its label. The page shows that $56,925 was donated during the short fundraiser.

Crip Fund

Ninety-five percent of artists lost significant income during the pandemic, with performances and exhibitions cancelled and access to studio spaces restricted. A group of disabled and chronically ill artists organized Crip Fund in March 2020, pooling money and distributing food, medicine, and other aid to “immunocompromised and disabled people in need of in-home…...

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A drawing of riders on the subway which serves as the cover of All riders, The letters of the title use the signs and colors of the symbols of subway lines.

Producing Political Documentaries During the Pandemic

During the pandemic, two documentaries were produced and launched by advocacy groups on the question of mobility of disabled people in New York City. NYC’s transit system is notorious for its inaccessibility as, out of over 400 subway stations, less than 30% are accessible—and many of which are only accessible…...

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Screenshot of Facebook post from CPC Open Door Senior Center showing collage of images of Chinese-American seniors engaging in various activities and celebrations (full post embedded)

CPC Open Door Senior Center 50th Anniversary

Established in 1972, Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) Open Door Senior Center has become a community space for elderly Chinese immigrants in NYC for 50 years. Reuniting with friends, various performances, and delicious food are our way of celebrating this milestone. — Shuting Li

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Graphic on a mostly black background with yellow shapes that suggest warning through red and yellow. Text says: 'COMMIT TO LONG COVID JUSTICE. Pandemics are Chronic. Sign the pledge. Visit or follow the link in our bio to read the full pledge & sign. @LongCOVIDJustice.'

#LongCOVIDJustice: Pandemics Are Chronic

In March 2022, the National Network for Long COVID Justice was launched as a coalition of groups representing people with Long Covid and other chronic illnesses (including notable leadership of ME/CFS activists) to insist that governments and institutions take seriously the chronic aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The coalition released…...

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A tweet from Rent Refusers Network showing a confrontation between activists, the SRG, NYPD, DSNY and DHS at the unhoused camp called "Anarchy Row." (Tweet accessible in post.)

Anarchy Row: NYC’s Management of the Unhoused

More images: In early April 2022, NYC’s administration engaged in a series of sweeps on unhoused encampments in the city in an effort to reduce homelessness in the city. The sweeps consist in dismantling the camps, dislodging people, and discarding their belongings and redirecting them in safe havens or stabilization…...

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The black-and-white graphic features a silhouette of a person in profile holding a syringe in one hand. The silhouette has been mirrored both vertically and horizontally so that the figure appears in each corner of the graphic. Written above the figures in varying font sizes from top to bottom are “Stop Rationing Care,” “Stop Medical Apartheid,” “Vaccinate Now,” “Global Inoculation Against Viral Fascism,” “End Eugenics,” and at the bottom of the image “End Vaccine Hoarding.”

Brothers Sick: Pareidolia (Vaccinate Now)

Pareidolia (Vaccinate Now), one of the posters created by Brothers Sick (Ezra Benus and Noah Benus) during the pandemic, reminds that vaccination is urgent but not always straightforward. The Brothers Sick demand an end to medical rationing, the rationing of care, and vaccine hoarding on a global scale. Sussanne Pfeffer, director…...

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A Facebook post by BCID saying : "We had a great event yesterday handing out KN95 masks and leaflets at Atlantic Terminal! We gave out all the masks we had with us and reminded people to #MaskUp on public transit.” With four thumbnails of the action.

Mask Up! Campaign

Even if it is still required by the MTA, the number of people wearing masks as they board the train, bus or paratransit vehicles dwindled in June 2022. Disabled activists from the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled took upon themselves meet the riders outside the Atlantic terminal station…...

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Photograph of a painted mural by artist Chella Man, depicting illustrated hands spelling out the message "Black Disabled Trans Lives Matter" in American Sign Language. The letter "a" in the words "black," "disabled," and "trans" are all connected. The hands are colored using the colors of the trans and Pride flags (including black and brown).

Chella Man: Black Disabled Trans Lives Matter mural

Photograph of a painted mural by artist Chella Man, located at 112 Christopher Street in Manhattan, depicting illustrated hands spelling out the message “Black Disabled Trans Lives Matter” in American Sign Language. As Chella Man notes on his website: Prior to painting, I realized the identities “Black”, “Disabled”, and “Trans”…...

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Screnshot of Twitter from Imani Barbarin saying: "Contrary to popular belief, @CDCDirector , disabled people aren’t just data points. Every life lost was loved by someone, someone’s community member, someone’s friend. How callous to say you’re encouraged by the prospect of their deaths. #MyDisabledLifeIsWorthy"


On January 7, 2022 CDC director Rochelle Walensky made a remark on Good Morning America about deaths from the Omicron variant of Covid that provoked outrage in the disability community: “These are people who were unwell to begin with. And yes: really encouraging news in the context of Omicron.” In…...

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Five Black and brown men (from left to right: Vince, Jay, Tito, Pete and Var) sit in wheelchairs outside, all lined up in a straight horizontal line facing the camera. They wear T-shirts and sneakers and some wear baseball caps. They all look into the camera with serious expressions.

Fire Through Dry Grass

Jay (second from left) is Co-Director of an upcoming documentary, Fire Through Dry Grass, that is centered on a group of people living at Coler Specialty Hospital on Roosevelt Island, a rehabilitation and nursing center in New York City. These men formed the Reality Poets, and are part of OPEN DOORS, a network of…...

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Share Your Stories & Materials

In addition to the ethnographic interviews and oral histories initiated by our team of faculty and graduate students, we are eager to be in dialogue with any members of the community who wish to have their experiences preserved. Our digital repository will be preserved and made accessible by the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, a part of NYU Special Collections, at New York University.

We invite you to share your experiences in one of the following ways: Testimonials, Images & Artifacts, and Interviews / Oral Histories.

Please note: due to size and scope considerations, not all materials will necessarily be included in the archive or website.