New research is underway to help better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Australia’s blind and low vision community.
Vision Australia, a national not-for-profit provider of blindness and low vision services, recently launched its COVID Normal survey, which examines the response to COVID-19 by Government, business, and the wider community.
Vision Australia will use information from the survey to help ensure the needs of people who are blind or have low vision are considered in responses to future pandemics and similar emergencies.
“The survey isn’t about the health impacts of COVID-19, rather we want to know what people who are blind or have low vision have experienced and felt during the implementation and communication of the response to the pandemic,” says Susan Thompson, Advocacy Advisor for Vision Australia.
“We may not have a pandemic for a number of years, but it’s important we understand what can be improved for future responses.
"This information could also help ensure responses to other emergencies, such as a natural disaster, better consider the needs of people who are blind or have low vision.”
The survey covers a range of different topics including social distancing, face masks, access to COVID-19 testing, telehealth delivery, and more.
Ms Thompson says people who are blind or have low vision, or live with any disability, can face different challenges compared to the broader community.
“It’s important these are considered in response to a pandemic or any other emergency,” says Ms Thompson.
“For example, not being able to drive meant disruptions to online grocery shopping, and delivery had a significantly higher impact for people who are blind or have low vision. Accessing a COVID-19 test when you normally rely on public transport also presented specific issues for people who are blind or have low vision.
“We’re also interested in hearing if there have been any positives to come out of the pandemic response. For example, we’re interested to know about what the expansion of telehealth has meant for our community.”
The Vision Australia COVID Normal survey is open to anybody who is blind or has low vision across Australia. The survey will close on Wednesday, February 10.
For more information or support to complete the survey, call Vision Australia on 1300 847 466