The coronavirus – creeping onto the world’s scene only a few short months ago and then exploding into our day-to-day lives. Every day we hear about the impact of corona and COVID-19 on – well, almost everyone. But how is it affecting disabled individuals? Today on Blind Abilities we explore just how blind and visually impaired individuals have experienced and adapted to corona and COVID-19 around the world.
This is Chee Chau, from Malaysia.
Hi, my name’s Steve, and I’m from England.
My name is Elise Lonsdale, and I’m from Northern Australia.
Hi, my name is Lori Thompson, I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which is in the United States.
Hey everyone, it’s me, Marlon Parieaho, from Trinidad and Tobago.
Hello, I’m Sherry Molengraft, from Jacksonville, Florida.
Hi, my name is Nick D’Ambrosio, and I’m from Montreal, Canada.
Brooklyn Rodden Kelly:
I’m Brooklyn, and I’m from Sacramento, California.
Greetings everyone! Brian Fischler, from New York City.
Our guest on today’s episode is Nick D’Ambrosio. Nick hails from the city of Montreal, in the province of Quebec in the eastern part of Canada. Nick has been an essential worker, working at a drugstore in downtown Montreal since the pandemic began, and as such he has some unique perspective on how COVID-19 is affecting not only Canadians and citizens in the city of Montreal, but blind and visually impaired individuals as well.
Canadian Newscaster (male):
-from Ottawa now to Quebec city as officials in the province announce that it is now the highest number of cases in this country. There are officially 2498 infections now in Quebec, and 22 deaths. From Montreal, the provincial government is deciding to limit movement in some parts of the province.
Canadian Newscaster (female):
Let’s hear from the Deputy Premiere.
The objective, I would like to remind you, of this new order is to control people moving around, and to better protect populations who live in those places who are considered to be more vulnerable because they are often more isolated-
Canadian Newscaster (male) 2:
Following physical distancing guidelines can be a challenge for most of us, but those guidelines are even harder to follow for members of the visually impaired community. Nick D’Ambrosio has lost most of his eyesight, and he joins us this morning from Montreal. Nick, so glad to talk to you today, give me a sense of what your experience has been like during the pandemic?
Well, I’ve been working at a drugstore for a long time, and when I first started social distancing was part of my nature because I don’t see very well, but now with the pandemic it’s a lot more difficult keeping away from customers even for my day-to-day life, going to school-
Hi, my name is Nick D’Ambrosio, and I’m from Montreal Canada. Coronavirus has affected the blind and visually impaired community in many different ways – here in Canada, with our ten provinces and three territories, the spread of the coronavirus varies from province to province and territory to territory. But many constants still remain – no social gatherings, social distancing is a must, no travelling amongst regions, and of course, all essential services still remain open. I work at a drugstore here in Montreal, Canada, and one of my biggest fears and concerns has been social distancing. It is very difficult for me, with my lack of vision, to stay six feet away from someone at all times, and this is not only my problem at work, but many of us in the visually impaired and blind community have this problem when going out for groceries, and staying in line outside, or even in the store itself when we’re doing groceries, banking, drugstore, to get the stuff we need done.
Now, here in Canada, there’s a program called Virtual Vision Mate Program, by the CNIB, and this allows you to connect with someone to help you get the help you need to go get your groceries or your medication, whether you go with them or they get it for you. Now, I’m hoping throughout the world there are services like this that you can tap into to get all of your essential stuff done, but if you can’t I’m sure there are family and friends to ask them “You know what, can you get me a few things if you’re going to the store?” You’d be surprised that there are people that are willing to help in this time of need.
Now, another problem faced by everyone is isolation – we may be stressed, we may be bored, maybe even depressed of staying home weeks on end. But this is not a time to be a hero, it’s a time to continue to network. Just like in the Virtual Vision Mate Program, by the CNIB – it’s not the only program out there; you can call friends, you can call family members, you can call other organizations, hotlines, and I’m sure that if you’re feeling a little bit down, there’s always someone to talk to. Now, if you do go out, please be careful, wear a mask, don’t touch your face, wash your hands, and stay diligent and stay acute with all your senses when walking the streets. I don’t recommend it, but if you have to, you have to. We’ll get through this, and I hope everyone stays safe, and remember we will get through this.
Canadian Newscaster (female) 2:
As Quebec moves to slowly start reopening in the coming weeks, officials in the borough of Montreal North are working to contain an outbreak – and some want more time. The Quebec government says it’s watching things closely, here and in several Montreal hospitals hit by outbreaks-
-Premiere acknowledges the battle in Montreal isn’t over.
It’s time to be more disciplined than ever.
Canadian Newscaster (female) 2:
He says the outbreak in most of Quebec is under control, but still expects more cases and more deaths in the coming days.
This concludes episode five in our series Around the World With COVID-19 From a Blindness Perspective. It was great hearing from Nick and his experiences with the coronavirus, social distancing, and other precautionary measures in Canada. Be sure to tune in for other episodes in our series, and from all of us here at Blind Abilities, through these challenging times, to you, your family, and friends, stay well, stay informed, and stay strong. Thank you so much for listening, and have a great day.
[Music] [Transition noise] –
When we share
-What we see
-Through each other’s eyes…
[Multiple voices overlapping, in unison, to form a single sentence]
…We can then begin to bridge the gap between the limited expectations, and the realities of Blind Abilities.
For more podcasts with the blindness perspective, check us out on the web at www.blindabilities.com, on Twitter @BlindAbilities. Download our app from the app store Blind Abilities, that’s two words, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for listening.
Contact Your State Services
If you reside in Minnesota, and you would like to know more about Transition Services from State Services contact Transition Coordinator Sheila Koenig by email or contact her via phone at 651-539-2361.
To find your State Services in your State you can go to www.AFB.org and search the directory for your agency.
Check out the Blind Abilities Communityon Facebook, the Blind Abilities Page, and the Career Resources for the Blind and Visually Impaired group