Published on March 1, 2021

Ahmedabad: Those who are visually impaired are in a perilous position when it comes to remaining safe in the Covid-19 pandemic. When the government and experts advise people not to touch any surfaces unnecessarily, they have to rely heavily on their tactile senses to discern surroundings. So how to reduce the chances of infection for this population?

City-based Blind People’s Association (BPA) has developed protocols for Covid &Mobility of Blind under the aegis of The International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI) West Asia region. The protocols were recently presented to the members. Bhushan Punani, executive secretary of BPA and president of ICEVI West Asia, said that the protocols insist on regular sanitization and use of easily available material to ensure safety of both the persons with visual impairment and those who help them.

“For example, we use rubber-band to ensure that the guiding person doesn’t come in direct contact with a cane user – what one needs to do is, make a simple loop of the band at the end of the cane and use it to hold and guide the cane. It would not only ensure help, but also social distancing,” he said.

Likewise, persons with visual impairment are trained for human guide technique where a person can provide verbal cues for navigation from behind the cane user without touching him or her.

Nandini Rawal, director of BPA, said that such techniques, along with use of hand gloves and sanitizing canes regularly, will also reduce stigma among the general population that sometimes prevents them from helping visually impaired persons in activities such as crossing the street.

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