It is obvious that everyone is sick of hearing about covid19, especially the visually impaired. At first, most of us were shocked, saddened, or scared, however, many grew depressed as time went on. Sadly, some people became suicidal or died from suicide because they believed their lives were at a stand-still. No one thought that we would be locked down for two and-a-half years.
Some visually impaired persons were angry about the lock-down. If you were in fear of the pandemic, it was either because you or your loved-ones have a medical condition such as high blood pressure or lung problems, or some other underlying condition. If this was the case, people took every precaution possible by wearing masks and gloves when they went out, and they washed their hands very well. Being that the gyms were closed, everyone had to find other options for exercising at home. If we were not exercising or spring cleaning, some of us may have either slept, written, read books, attended online classes, played some computer games, talked on the phone or found some other hobby. We were allowed to take a walk outside just as long as we followed the six-foot rule, however, we were required to lock down as a prevention method from catching the virus; and this meant that besides taking a walk, we were only allowed to go on essential outings such as the store, or an essential job function,
what did this mean for blind or low vision people?
Even though facilities such as the Braille Institute, camp Bloomfield, and the Lighthouse for the Blind were closed temporarily, alternatives to in-person classes were made available to the students and clients. During this time, the internet became everyone’s friend. These alternatives were online classes over zoom, Microsoft teams, google duo, and the phone conference system. Junior Blind of America even had a zoom summer camp during the first year of the pandemic, but again people did not want to attend that session because it was not the same. The staff from all of these facilities knew that they needed to offer some type of classes in order to try and keep people from being depressed, and to hopefully keep students from losing their motivation or the will to do anything just because they are home all of the time.
Even though both facilities tried to help most of the students, it was a losing battle for two reasons: first, because some people thought that closing these facilities too extreme, and others thought that online classes were not the same as walking in to these facilities and being able to socialize with friends. Still others did not care if they had to be locked down because they were afraid of catching the virus.
On March 10th 2020, a friend of mine called me to tell me that the Braille Institute would be closed starting the next day. In my heart I knew this might happen, but I did not know that it would last from two to three years, but during the time it was closed, I learned a lot about myself. I learned that anyone can find an alternative to going somewhere when leaving the house is not an option. I also learned that during the lock down, nobody was missing anything because nothing was happening. During the pandemic, the computer was my friend, because I learned about different things I was interested in—That is how I learned that I wanted my career to be in freelance writing, but the most important thing I learned was that I must hold my family close, because they are important. Life is what you make it, and I’m still learning that.
The pandemic has affected me in many different ways. I was depressed and frustrated at first, because I knew that we were in a pandemic, but I couldn’t understand why everyone was trying to blow it up and make us afraid enough that we had to be locked down. My sleep patterns were thrown off. I would get up at four o-clock in the morning with a heavy heart because I could not go out.
After the first three months, I started looking in to being a freelance writer. At first I had no idea what freelance writing entailed. I thought it was only writing novels, but now I know it’s a lot more. At the end of August, I received a blessing, and what was that blessing? A long-time friend offered to take me on walks at least two times a week and I jumped at the chance. Sometimes we would go out to dinner, but because we could not always sit at a restaurant, we took our dinners back to his apartment. After we ate I waited for my transportation service to take me home. When we would go on our walks, my friend would put the pedometer on, and he would tell me how many miles we walked
after we were done. We were walking for a year, and then I moved to Bakersfield California. By the time I moved to Bakersfield, I was mostly safe from covid19, because I had two vaccines. After I had been living in Bakersfield for a few months, I received a booster because businesses such as Braille Institute, the Light House, and Camp Bloomfield were starting to reopen. Although the mask mandate is not required everywhere in Bakersfield, masks must be worn when seeing the doctor. But in Los Angeles County they are required, especially on Access Services. Access Services is a transportation company that gives rides to the disabled population for a minimal fare. Even though we still need to wear masks in some places, our lives are back to normal. I attend Vocation Consultants for the Blind three times a week, I go to the gym, and I am going on a cruise. I also go to church and shopping with my stepmom, so my life is busy. Just like the flu, covid19 is here to stay so we need to handle it. Through the time I spent locked down, I was able to experience the opinions of two different types of people: Those who were really afraid of covid, and others who were not so afraid. I also experienced how people felt when they had covid because my dad and my stepmom caught it last May. All of these experiences taught me that I need to live life. Life is too short, and if I catch covid and I get better, great!!! If I do not survive it, I realize that I was supposed to go to heaven. So far I have not caught it, and I am absolutely relieved that my life is back to normal!