People with disabilities face additional challenges during COVID-19 lockdown. RJ Manjula from Radio Active 90.4MHz talks to Srinivas Murthy, a first division clerk in the Forest Department who has vision disability, to bring these issues to light.
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Srinivas Murthy says that the sense of touch plays an important role in the lives of people with vision disability – be it for moving around or doing daily chores. Now, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, they need to be extra wary of the people they approach for help since the latter might be carriers of the virus.
While people with disability who work in the organised sector are not facing economic problems in particular, those who are unemployed or have insecure jobs find it hard to buy equipment like masks, gloves and sanitisers, says Srinivas. Buying the tools to clean canes or crutches has become expensive too. Factories and establishments that employ people with disabilities should understand these concerns and support them now instead of laying them off jobs.
Though the government has issued guidelines and instructions to cope during the lockdown, there are no practical demonstrations of the same. Srinivas believes that practical demonstrations would go a long way in helping those with vision disability.
The Aarogya Setu app initiated by the government does come in handy, but does not have any specific features for people with vision disability. Having specialised alert systems will make the app more inclusive and establish a better connection between the government and the community, says Srinivas.
Since the symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, throat irritation) are common, it has raised a few false alarms within the community too. People have mistaken a common cold due to weather changes to be COVID-19, which has caused considerable damage to their mental well-being. Srinivas and a few like-minded people, along with the help of organisations like Rotary Club and the National Federation of the Blind, are reaching out to such people and helping them.
Certain NGOs are also home-delivering essential items to people with disabilities across Bengaluru.
Srinivas has compiled these issues faced by the community, in an article that was published on April 6 in the Kannada daily Sanjevaani.
He concludes by asking people to take all the necessary precautions required to mitigate COVID-19.[Compiled by Deeksha Sudhindra]