Everyone’s life has been turned upside down by the coronavirus. Our contact with family and friends, our jobs and incomes, our access to even the most basic things we took for granted just weeks ago. It dominates the news and political agendas and haunts everyday thoughts and conversation.
But imagine how much harder this is for many of those who are blind or partially sighted. For people more dependent on others for support, who can’t always tell whether they are socially distancing, and who are starting to feel whatever gains they have achieved to date have been re-set to zero overnight.
How much harder? The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has just done the first nationwide survey of how those with sight loss are coping. Some of its findings are alarming.
We’re pressing for blind and partially sighted people to be included on the priority list for online shopping slots
Three in four respondents reported being concerned about getting access to food, one in five have even had to ration it, while 67 per cent have experienced difficulty finding a supermarket delivery slot. 78 per cent also said they had less contact with ‘the people who matter to me’.
To help meet their concerns, RNIB has made perhaps the biggest transition in its history. Most of our staff shifted to home-working in under a fortnight and continue to offer lifeline support.
We’re pressing for blind and partially sighted people to be included on the priority list for online shopping slots. We’ve pushed public bodies to make sure all of their communications, often containing vital health information, are available in formats like audio and braille. And, when lockdown eases, we want to be sure continuing social distancing doesn’t confine those with sight loss to the home.