This is the first part of three of our lockdown blog by our blind accessibility assessor, Alan Sleat. Part 2 and 3 will be released weekly.
The Current Lockdown Situation
UK in lockdown, locked in, can’t escape! This time last year none of us would have thought anything like this would happen, actually, we would not even have thought about it. However, for everyone’s health steps were taken to limit contact between people. Working from home if you can, not going out unless it was necessary and for some of us, me included, not going out at all (shielding).
On writing this blog, England is lifting some of the restrictions, balancing health with economics.
This Isn’t the First Lockdown For Many Of Us…
Why have I started a blog on something everyone has, or is still going through? Well, for some people, it is not the first time, or will be the last time they are in lockdown.
Many people in the UK and around the world are born with a disability, some others have the same disabilities but later in life, which limits their independence, from very little not being able to go out, to slight, being able to go out with assistance.
Many people within the last few months have been helping family, friends and neighbours, along with complete strangers. I wonder what will happen when people all go back to their normal lives? Will people continue to help those who are in lockdown through their disability? Or will people with a disability in lockdown feel the difference?
Some People With Disabilities Are Always in Lockdown
On losing my sight just over 20 years ago now, I remember the feeling of lockdown. Mum and Dad helped, but the independence had gone. Now, a lot of it has come back, but it will never be all. The differences between lockdown now and for others like me, is that there will be a day where we can go out and do what we used to do, whereas people with some disabilities, do not have this luxury.
One thing I hear lots within media, social, or in other methods, is “I can’t wait to see my family, friends and go out for a coffee”, even though they use social platforms to connect with them anyway, but I understand the importance of seeing loved ones.
In lots of companies, where people are now working from home, using different platforms to see each other in meetings, they are commenting how it is so much nicer and beneficial seeing people in meetings and how it feels more sociable.
Just a note here: when I join these meetings, I don’t put the video part on, just the voice part. Why? Well it will depend on whether my colleagues like looking up my nose, in my left ear, or even not seeing any of me and just admiring my office décor instead! It should not be, but it feels embarrassing when people say I can’t see you, left a bit, no too much, nearly there, up a bit. That’s it. Then two minutes later, going through the scenario again.
How Can You Help When Your Lockdown is Over?
So when this is all over, think how you can still keep helping people. Try and have some insight to a long term lockdown situation and perhaps think of all those things that may prevent people being independent, from parking on the pavement, social isolation for someone you may only see now and again and the various technologies that will assist people being made accessible wherever they can.
So why this blog telling you all of this? Well perhaps some of the limitations, like not seeing each other, or being able to get out of the house, or travelling too far, will give you a little insight on lockdown for some people who have to think about this not just for 2020, but for ever.