Blind and visually impaired community face unique challenges with COVID-19


AUSTIN (KXAN) — How do you social distance when you can’t see?

For the blind community, COVID-19 has caused some unique challenges.

“Blind people don’t have any way to social distance. We can’t see the marks on the floor in the stores, and we don’t really know how far away people really are,” said Ann Foxworth, a blind Austinite.

In the world we live in, now a trip to the store is filled with signs and markers on the ground showing customers where to stand, and clear barriers have also been placed in the check-out lines, which Douglas Foxworth says has also been an issue.

“I went to give my card, and bam, right into the shield, so I had to walk around it,” said Doug Foxworth.

The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired has faced many challenges, as well.

“We will have a population of students that physical distancing won’t be possible, so we have to look at other ways to keep our staff safe,” said Emily Coleman, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired superintendent. “That means in certain classrooms they might have increased use of PPE equipment.”

The plan is to return to classes in mid-August, but right now discussions on how the fall semester will look are ongoing.

“We have nine different teams that have been formed on our campus to think about sanitation, transportation, program development,” said Coleman.

Ann Foxworth is hoping the pandemic ends soon, but also hopes that those around her understand the challenges the blind and visually impaired community deal with on a daily basis.

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