By March 3, 2021 Read More →

COVID 19 – Accommodation and Mobility

My whole life I’ve always struggled with Independence. I love to hike and be in the mountains. With out a “taker”, a person who drives and ideally also wants to be in the mountains, I can’t go. Once I was at a destination I was mostly good to go independently.

With the pandemic all of the rituals and actions to get around have been obliterated.

No more does one get up and get on a bus and go to work. Or go to coffee or interact with people in a physical context. At six feet distancing you don’t exist to me. With a mask I can’t recognize you or smell you. I’m terrified about riding a bus without a mask and gloves.

Getting to a store is either on foot, preferred, or in a car. Thankfully most of what I need is within walking distance. But the rest of it is in a car, driver or uber, away.

Recently my wife had to go to hospital, since I can’t drive, and we are all potential spreaders. Getting a ride to the hospital from a neighbor or Uber or taxi is, tenuous. I had to call an ambulance with all the associated drama. As an experience it was, “interesting”, and sadly necessary.

Walking down the street this time of year where I live is a challenge. The weather and snow and ice limit my mobility. I fell 4 times last year and so far this year knock on wood, no falls. But to be honest its a rare event to go outside at all.

Maintaining social distancing walking is hard and most people don’t take the initiative for me, I have to accommodate them.

I’ve always felt lonely because of my sight. One to two feet is my limit for positive identification of a person, unless I see you regularly. So I know my wife. Positive identification of a person for me is mostly based on smell, color and cadence.

For my birthday my wife arranged for some people to show up on our front lawn. It was very hard as I couldn’t see any of them. I was very thankful that they were there none the less.

My white cane, my stick, has always been an impediment to human interaction. Oddly most of the time people don’t know what the white cane is and what its for. But the stick has always kept people away. During the pandemic I call my white cane my social distancing stick. “Don’t get any closer than this or I’ll beat you with it”. Never would I do that since the authorities would take my stick away. But because everyone is staying away I’m more alone.

Pre-pandemic I could sense people by the space they take or their smell, now that’s all gone. I’m an island.

Out and about its very hard. I can’t see the plastic screens that people are using or the arrows that establishments are using to direct people. The rope fencing that is used to direct foot traffic is the worst, can’t deal with it. Now to be safe I need to be with a sighted person to facilitate my interaction with all the methods used to keep people apart.

Until we get to herd immunity I have to function as a totally blind person not a mostly blind person.

The pandemic has totally changed how I accommodate myself with my disability, but effectively it has taken away my Independence. I now have to do everything with another person.

About the Author:

Kyle has ocular albinism and has been legally blind since birth. Kyle leads a very active live and is besides his professional career involved in many projects for persons who are different.

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