COVID has had an impact on all of us in one way or another, in fact probably more than one way for all of us. From family, work, routine, children, and so much more. Now for some of us it has also made a world that was pretty inaccessible even more so.
We are all trying our best to keep ourselves and others safe in our personal lives and in our professional ones. In turn that has become an excuse to not be accessible to those who require it.
When I go out in public my hands are my eyes, there is no way for me to change that. It is my reality. I cannot see the lines or arrows or any of the signage that people feel the need to point out incessantly. People right now I am sure are stressed but it does not give you the right to call someone out for touching things, or not following arrows. It might be hard to believe but the stress we feel is high, the anxiety we fell is up there, do we want to touch things nope! But unfortunately for you that is my reality.
I have had many instances when I have gone into a store to try and find something and stood near where I could hear people and waited to see if someone would offer to help. I am trying my best to stay away from people. But in one instance I stood and waited for 20 minutes, then when I overheard two possible employees saying “how do we help that one?” then giggling and the young man saying I have just been watcher her, but she has touched so many f**** things”. Needless to say I left.
I get it people don’t want to be close to people, but I require the assistance of others when I am out and about. I am conscious of people’s discomfort so I make a point to wear a mask, constantly hand sanitize, but people just do not want to help. Unfortunately that is one way that I was able to be as independent as I wanted and needed to be.
There have been instances where people have been needing to purchase a new cell phone or a new computer and have been told they are not allowed to touch the demos. Which for the bulk of the population that is fine, for someone who is blind, it doesn’t work. Would you buy something without seeing it at all or being able to test it? Probably not but that is what we are being made to do. When there are safe ways to be able to allow people who are blind or partially sighted to have the same access.
Being told that your guide dog is not welcome and using COVID as a reason is also happening, letting someone not have a sighted guide, so many things have been made inaccessible. In no way is COVID an excuse to not allow people to have equal access to the world around them. We should be moving forward in disability and accessibility not backwards, and in so many senses that is what COVID has felt like.
If everyone just remembers that we all just want to be able to live a safe, happy, healthy life and if we work together we can. It would be a much better place to be. If you see someone who looks like they need help, please for the love of god ask.
Until Next Time
Ashley and Danson