With COVID-19 in full force, and the necessities of social distancing being widely broadcast, I’m trying to figure out what that means for those of us who are blind. So far I’ve come up with the following ideas:

  1. I can’t do social distancing like sighted people do it in every respect and that’s going to have to be okay. When I’m in an unfamiliar situation, I need to hear a verbal greeting like, “hello, I’m across the street with my dog,” instead of getting a smile or a wave. I may need to touch things or take an elbow.
  2. I have to touch elevator numbers, etc. to know what button to push. When I get home, you bet I wash my hands!
  3. I ask people if I can take their arm and tell them as far as I know I’m negative on corona but haven’t been tested.
  4. When people make kind offers to pick up something for me, drop off some food or whatever, I’m giving myself permission to accept a few more offers than I usually would. If I don’t need it or want it, I turn it down but say I may well want it in two weeks, so please offer again. Then I ask if I can put them on my ask list and if so for what kind of asks.
  5. I’m looking for ways to contribute; e.g. Facebooking funny stuff, links to concerts, etc., calling acquaintances in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, etc. I’ve made deals with some other singles to contact each other every day just so someone would know if a bad thing happened.
  6. I’ve arranged with a neighbor to take care of my guide dog if I fall sick and am thinking ahead even more than usual about when I’ll need groceries, medicines, etc. and ordering a little early in case they’re out or have a backlog.
  7. For the sighted assistance I need, I’m thinking about who I could ask if my regular reader or shopping helper is ill.
  8. I’m trying to use my better coping skills to deal with my mad, sad and scared feelings about needing to ask for more help, dealing with sub-optimal or vanishing services and anxiety about the future. Reading, listening to music, talking to friends, walking the dog, prayer and chocolate help.
  9. I’m looking for the positives. So far I’ve noticed: more time to read, less meetings to attend, a guide dog who likes routine so I can’t lounge around all day, etc. Sighted people are using delivery options which will make that infrastructure stronger in the long run. Same thing with virtual meetings. We as blind people have been pioneers and will continue to be long after COVID-19 is a memory.