In April 2020, in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the American Foundation for the Blind took the lead in the Flatten Inaccessibility study. The purpose of the study was to learn how those who were blind or have low vision were affected early on by the pandemic.
The Journey Forward: Recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic
Though COVID-19 restrictions have eased and many Americans are beginning to venture out to shop, socialize, and work, we know that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on all our lives. AFB is conducting the Journey Forward study. The study began in summer 2021 with a survey conducted with U.S. adults who are blind, have low vision, or are deafblind. In fall 2021, the researchers will conduct focus groups with leaders in agencies and organizations supporting those with vision loss. It’s important that we understand the short-term and long-term impact of the pandemic on those with vision loss and learn from their experiences so we can address both COVID-created and systemic issues impacting the lives of those who are blind, have low vision, or are deafblind.
The Journey Forward study will continue the story begun with the Flatten Inaccessibility study. Read the report in which the authors examined the impact of COVID-19 on 1,921 adults with visual impairments in the United States. Though data were collected in April 2020, the systemic issues and challenges related to COVID-19 must be addressed in order to ensure equal access for all. Read the report online, or download and share the accessible PDF. Let others know how you are building on the study findings in your work, personal advocacy efforts, or policy efforts by using #FlattenInaccessibility.
Flatten Inaccessibility Survey Composition
The survey contained questions in 10 sections. The first two sections were required. After that participants could select which sections they wished to complete based on their own personal concerns. The 10 sections were:
- Technology use
- Current education experience
- Children you are supporting in K-12 education
- Social experiences
- Access to food, meals, and needed supplies
Over 2,400 people opened the survey link. After a careful analysis of surveys submitted, 1,921 surveys were found to be complete enough for analysis. At minimum participants completed the demographic and technology sections of the survey and many completed 4 or more additional sections.
Sharing the Study Findings
The study authors have shared the findings in multiple ways:
- Dr. L. Penny Rosenblum, Director of Research at the American Foundation for the Blind, joined #eSightTogether to discuss the findings from the Flatten Inaccessibility study. In the eSight webinar, Dr. Rosenblum shared the findings in four key areas: healthcare, transportation, access to goods, and employment.
- Dr. Rosenblum joined the Blind Abilities podcast to discuss how adults who are blind or low vision were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in areas of healthcare, employment, transportation, education, social experiences, access to meals, food and supplies, and voting.
- A session in the Virtual AFB Leadership Conference explored the preliminary findings. Watch the audio described and captioned Flatten Inaccessibility Webinar: Using Data to Ensure COVID-19 Responses Are Inclusive of Adults with Vision Loss.
- Blog posts for the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC) focused on How COVID-19 Has Made Transportation Issues Even More Challenging for People with Vision Loss.
- The second post for NADTC explores The Impact of COVID-19 on Transportation: Issues and Solutions for People with Vision Loss.
- American Council of the Blind
- Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired
- American Foundation for the Blind
- Aira Tech Corp
- American Printing House for the Blind
- Be My Eyes
- Council of Schools and Services for the Blind
- The Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute
- National Federation of the Blind
- National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation
- Objective Ed
- Prevent Blindness
- Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness: NFB/Louisiana Tech
- VisionServe Alliance
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