Working for People with Sight Loss

NCBI Tips and guidance on returning to life after Covid-19 lockdown

Life after Covid-19 lockdown

NCBI Tips and guidance on returning to life after Covid-19 lockdown – August 2020

Meeting people

We have all been cooped up in our homes for the past couple of months. Our only face to face contact may have been our immediate family / housemates or maybe a shopkeeper or delivery person. Having anxiety about reintroducing everyday social interactions into your life is completely understandable. As social distancing will be with us in some form for the foreseeable future, it is important for you to identify some coping strategies so you can get back out and enjoy your community.

Here are some tips you may choose to use:

  • if you can, meet with people who you know and trust to go out to regain your confidence in the routes you usually take.
  • Identify yourself as someone who is not able to maintain social distance by carrying either a long cane or symbol cane.
  • Let others know what you need and how they can help. For example, you may need them to announce their presence, physically or verbally guide you to a spot, or just give you space to move through and
  • You can ring NCBI’s helpline on 1850 33 43 53 to receive both practical advice and emotional support.

Shopping

Shopping during lockdown was daunting and a lot of us avoided it as much as we could. But with life returning to some sense of normality we may find ourselves in these environments once more. If you feel nervous about getting assistance while doing your shopping – why not ring ahead and speak to the shop manager, who might be able to arrange some assistance from staff.

Your shopping environment may be changing

All shops across the country have put new safety measures in place. When you are shopping you may encounter

  • New store layouts
  • Queuing systems
  • Floor markings for social distancing guidelines
  • One-way systems
  • Perspex screens near checkouts

When shopping:

  • To allow you to carry out your shopping, it is recommended that you sanitize and wash your hands before and after shopping. Small pocket-sized bottles of hand sanitiser can be found in pharmacies and supermarkets for your convenience. By doing this you will be able to retain your sense of touch in a safe manner.
  • You may wish to wear disposable gloves instead to allow you to find products by touch. It is essential that you dispose of the gloves properly in a bin after one use.
  • Use a symbol cane or long cane to let staff and other shoppers know that they should afford you some extra personal space in the shops.
  • Some shops are now introducing a traffic light system. The lights will show red to indicate that you should wait and green to let you know it is ok to enter the store. This is not accessible, you should ask shop staff for assistance if needed.
  • If you prefer, there is always the option to shop online and arrange home delivery.
  • Always remember to sanitize the handle of your cane and to avoid touching your face and eyes.

Work environment

A lot of us have been working from home for the past few months which has presented its own challenges. As restrictions begin to ease, we are seeing the reopening of office and workspaces.

Some things to consider in your workspace:

  • You might like to have a discussion with your employer about how best to assist you before your return to work.
  • Don’t be afraid to request assistance if you need to. The environment has changed, and you have a right to know what the changes are, so you can follow the new public health guidelines and be comfortable in your workspace.
  • Your employer should make all new safety measures known to you before you recommence employment. Ask what they are and ask them to tell you about any new obstacles or changes to the environment.
  • Hand sanitizers and masks should be kept in a consistent position in your workplace and you should be made familiar with their location.
  • There may be signs or posters regarding health and safety measures. Ask what’s on them and ask your employer to make them accessible to you.
  • If possible, more flexibility in working from home could be offered to you.
  • If travelling to work is essential, you may consider asking your employer to provide a taxi to work or subsidised fares.
  • Ask colleagues to verbalise their actions to clarify activities and to ensure you know where they are.
  • As needed, ask colleagues to offer you verbal guidance to effectively provide environmental information and to avoid contact. You may use directional instructions or use a clock face as a point of reference.
  • NCBI’s technology support team are available on 1850 92 30 60 to offer advice and support to employees with vision impairments.
  • You can read NCBI’s Covid-19 Guidelines for Employers to Support a Vision Impaired Employee Returning to Work here: https://www.ncbi.ie/covid-19-guidelines-for-employers-to-support-a-vision-impaired-employee-returning-to-work/

Public transport

Public transport is starting to return to its regular services. All bus, train and LUAS services are running at a reduced passenger capacity to allow for social distancing requirements onboard.

Some things to keep in mind include:

  • All doors on public transport will open automatically to eliminate the need to push the button.
  • Dublin Bus are encouraging passengers to exit through the middle door. If this is not possible you will be accommodated to exit through the front door.
  • Assistance will be given to you on public transport on request and in the safest way possible, so ask when you need help.
  • You can call in advance to ensure that assistance will be available when you need it.
  • For assistance queries on Irish rail call 01 836 6222.
  • For assistance queries on LUAS call 01 461 49 10.
  • For assistance queries on Dublin Bus call 01 703 3204.
  • For assistance queries on Bus Eireann call 1850 836 611

Face Coverings

NCBI is recommending strongly that anyone who is blind or vision impaired should wear face coverings in line with public health advice.

Leisure activities

For many people, the lockdown put a stop to many things including exercise. You may have taken part in online or home workouts over the past few months. Vision Sports have come up with a way for people who are blind and vision impaired to get back out into the open air. Pass-sports is a safe way to exercise while socially distancing. Pass-sport supports Vision sport members to safely return to activities such as running, swimming, tennis and tandem bike riding. For more information contact visionsports@ncbi.ie

Accessible streets

To enable social distancing cafes, bars, and restaurants, may place some of their furniture onto the street. Whilst it is understandable that every option should be explored to allow businesses to trade in the months ahead, this cannot be done in a way which endangers the safety of pedestrians who are blind and vision impaired.

If you come across temporary street furniture on the footpath that is a hazard to you, you might like to contact the access officer in your local county council or you can highlight the problem with the NCBI Policy and Advocacy team on Tel: 01 8307033 or email: campaigns@ncbi.ie.

The number of people cycling has increased during the pandemic. If there are people cycling on the footpath in your locality which causing you concern,

please contact your local Garda station or contact the NCBI Policy and Advocacy team on Tel: 01 8307033 or email: campaigns@ncbi.ie.

Covid tracker app

The Covid tracker app is now available from app stores. The App is fully accessible. The more people that download and use the app, the more it will help us to monitor and suppress the virus in Ireland.

More information

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the NCBI Policy and Advocacy Team on Tel: 01 8307033 or email: campaigns@ncbi.ie.