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.
My name is Elise Lonsdale, and I’m from Northern Australia.
Hi, my name’s Steve, and I’m from England.
Hey everyone, it’s me, Marlon Parieaho, from Trinidad and Tobago.
Hi, my name is Nick D’Ambrosio, and I’m from Montreal, Canada.
Hi, my name is Lori Thompson, I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which is in the United States.
Brooklyn Rodden Kelly:
I’m Brooklyn, and I’m from Sacramento, California.
Greetings everyone! Brian Fischler, from New York City.
Hello, I’m Sherry Molengraft, from Jacksonville, Florida.
On today’s episode, we present Steve Wicketts, a professional entertainer in England. Steve will describe how the coronavirus and COVID-19 have affected not only his business, but the daily lives of blind and visually impaired citizens in his country. And now, please welcome from the United Kingdom, Steve Wicketts.
British Newscaster (male):
A week on from the relaxed lockdown measures, the hot weather, cool drinks, and ice creams in Brighton were just too tempting.
British Newscaster (male) 2:
The famous pier may be shut, but this city’s beach is open. It’s an escape for many after weeks of stringent lockdown rules, but the council here are telling people to stay away.
I’m telling people not to come, really, to make sure that they and everybody else stay safe.
Hi, my name’s Steve, and I’m from England, and I come from a city called Birmingham, which is in the center of England. Now, I was aware that there were changes going on, but didn’t know just how serious they were. I work for a company that get a lot of work from a leisure company that owns a lot of hotels, and we do very, very well, we sell out most of these hotels when we perform there. We went to one hotel, and the staff was saying that people were cancelling because of this new virus called corona, so we asked, “How many?” And she said at least 30 out of 300. We realized that people were taking it seriously, but the government hadn’t said anything, it was the media, and was this just media hype, but people were being careful, and as we all know now, quite rightly so. We go to another town, we do another show, and again people are cancelling, and then the lockdown happened.
And an interesting thing happened with our supermarkets – some of them were very responsible, and had helplines where you could phone, and they would tell you about a website that had been set up just so those more vulnerable would actually have allocated slots. Others that had these kind of websites that were for vulnerable people shut them down at the start of the lockdown, saying that they couldn’t cope with the demand, with everybody wanting now to either click and collect – that’s where you go with your car and they take the groceries out to you – or have home delivery.
Everything changed – I’m very fortunate that my parents live nearby, and they will get any products that I can’t get ahold of, but it’s not been easy. I work for myself, and the way it works in England and in the U.K. is that if you are employed by an employer you will get 80% of your wage. But I don’t know what I’m going to be entitled to until- well, the end of June, I think it is. And they will decide what they’re going to give us who are self-employed. So it’s not been the easiest of times, but making sure that those that you care for stay safe is way more important, and sticking to the rules that have been put in place to try and help us all – I’m sort of someone that’s listening to the news more than I ever did, which I think a lot of us are, but as a totally blind person- and a lot of people, partially sighted and blind, we are very good at problem solving, occupying ourselves, everything has kind of stopped. I rehearsed like crazy for a brand new show – we’d only done four of these new shows when suddenly, nothing to rehearse for. Some of the venues that I’ve played may never open again. Very strange times indeed, but you’ve got to stay positive. That’s the only way.
What is pleasing is that, in most instances, people are travelling for legitimate purposes, and we realize this is a very difficult time for the public, but they’ve been very supportive of us and understand why we are doing this.
This concludes the third episode in our series Around the World With COVID-19 From a Blindness Perspective. We’d like to thank Steve Wicketts for sharing his perspective on COVID-19 from his country, England. Stay tuned for more 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.
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