Confronting Corona as a Blind Person
I should be embarrassed to confess that I have always been fascinated by epidemics. Cholera, small pox, polio, the great influenza pandemic, it doesn’t matter. I admit that I struggle to understand the virology or bacteriology behind these diseases but am captivated by the stories of how people respond to them.
Whether it’s the bubonic plague or yellow fever, some people prefer to ignore the danger, others are frightened into immobility, some people are prompted to hoarding and selfishness, and others find altruism and generosity they didn’t know they had.
For the most part, someone who is blind is experiencing Covid-19 in the same way as everyone else. We are sheltering in place, washing our hands, avoiding touching our face, and engaging in social distancing.
There are, however, a couple of very important exceptions to this generalization, and they all revolve around transportation.
* While we try to restrict trips outside the home, sometimes it is unavoidable, and, when it is, how can we do it? The blind and visually-impaired population is exceptionally dependent on public mass transportation. Not only has the availability of mass transit shrunken substantially but, when it is available, social distancing goes out the window. It’s not the same as hopping in your own car.
* If I were to develop symptoms that make me think I’m coming down with the virus, how would I get to the testing facility? I wouldn’t want to be passive, ignoring the symptoms, but I would think it would be morally indefensible for me to ask someone else for a ride. * If I know with certainty that I have the virus, how would I get to a hospital?
* While not as important as the questions above, what should I do with my dog if I develop the virus? This is not as silly as it might sound since, while dogs apparently can’t contract Covid-19, they can transmit it.
Hopefully, people reading this post in the future will find these questions just a quaint academic exercise. For now, unfortunately, there will be people for whom they have immediate practical significance.