Making life accessible for people with disabilities has not ever been more important than these difficult times. While the whole world is staying home to save themselves and others from the deadly pandemic, its not a new thing for the disabled.
After World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Coronavirus outbreak as a global pandemic, it was clear that upcoming times are going be more difficult for the disabled. WHO discussed challenges to be faced by disabled during their livestream on TikTok. This report by WHO says, about 15% of world’s population lives with some kind of disability, of which 2-4% experience significant difficulties in functioning.
Although, most people with disabilities are well acquainted with how it feels like to socially distant from fellow beings, they still need to have access to essentials just like others. For people with disabilities and severe health conditions, who are one of the most vulnerable segments of our society, cannot be forced to be locked at their homes, as many of them are heavily dependent on their caregivers and support workers. While the world stocks their food and essentials, imagine the level of difficulty faced by people with mobility challenges.
Challenges are not only just limited to food, mobility and health, people with visual disabilities cannot even attend school while their universities move to online classes. Most websites aren’t accessible to the blind. The biggest need of staying safe from the virus, yes, “Washing Hands” is a major challenge for disabled too. While the world is facing an information overload on the virus, the deaf are facing a severe lack of content in sign language.
The need for inclusivity and information accessibility has emerged as a challenge that needs immediate fix. Government of India launched COVID-19 Solutions Challenge to invite ideas that’ll help in tackling the pandemic and its shortcomings. To support the government and other authorities, start-up entrepreneurs have risen to the great rescue and are developing technology solutions for everybody to help cope up with challenges posed by COVID-19.
These key recommendations by International Disability Alliance towards a Disability-Inclusive COVID-19 response elaborate some practical solutions to help people with disabilities tackle main barriers they face during the pandemic.
Here are some tips for people with disabilities to cope up with Coronavirus lockdown:
Covid has made everyone in the lockdown worry for food. But food apps like swiggy and zomato and grocery apps like Big Basket and Grofers can make your worries go away. These apps are easily accessible and are following safety guidelines by leaving the food at your doorsteps etc. Take your loved ones’ help in stacking enough supplies for the lockdown.
Health workers are the most busy personnel during this lockdown period. They are working very hard to keep everybody safe and healthy. Make sure you keep a constant touch with your caregivers. Use telemedicine apps to connect with your caregivers often and keep updated on measures to keep yourselves safe from the virus spread. If you use any assistive equipment, get it cleaned and sanitized often.
Staying in for long periods can be tiring and frustrating. So, it’s necessary to take care of your mental health. Instead of feeling locked inside, take it as an opportunity to focus on yourself and your loved ones. If you have been avoiding some tasks for long, right now is the best time to get them done. Here are some more ideas to keep yourself busy and beat anxiety.
Most universities have moved to online classes. This poses a huge challenge for people with visual disabilities. But all hope is not lost. This Facebook video is a great example of how information is being delivered to those who are disabled.
Many others like Sarthak Education Trust are helping people with disabilities get access to education. Accessible content providers like GingerTiger, Inclusive Technology and HelpKidzLearn are providing free trials of their products for kids who want to learn during this lockdown.
While you are at home, learning new skills is the best use of this lockdown. Make use of learning platforms like Udemy, Coursera, edX and many more who have made their content free. This medium article is a good resource for parents worried about the education needs of their child who require special education.
The Internet Archive temporarily eliminated waitlists for tons of ebooks and made 1.4 million books available on the National Emergency Library for free access to anybody who has an internet connection.
Never in history was work from home so widely implemented worldwide. Small, midsize, large companies, across the world, have their employees working from their homes. McKinsey published these key ideas to enable remote working for organization. Work with your organization to get whatever assistance you need to work from home. Organizations can borrow useful ideas from here to include their disabled workforce and implement more inclusive work from home environments.
Avoid crowded environments to the maximum extent and travel only if it’s absolutely necessary. Make use of special hours for people with disabilities.
The bright side of the lockdown is that you can use your time to plan your travel after things ease out and travel becomes more safe. Airlines are offering huge discounts on advance bookings. You can avail those offers if you were planning to go on a vacation.
Make a list of places you want to visit and conduct a research to shortlist the ones that are disability friendly. Most tourist spots and hotels are becoming inclusive and accommodating the needs of people with disabilities.
Here is a list of 12 museums that offer virtual tours. You can take these tours on your couch.
If you need any emergent assistance, you can use these 24/7 national helpline numbers, 1075 and 1800-112-545 and 011-23978046. Email: ncov2019-at-gmail.com. The Prime Minister has also announced a WhatsApp helpdesk number: 9013151515.