To say that 2020 has been a whirlwind is an understatement. COVID-19 has taken the year 2020 and turned it upside down. COVID-19 has brought many people pain, loss and suffering, in more ways than we ever imagined. On the plus side, the pandemic has also brought greater accessibility to multiple facets of life to the disabled community.
The biggest accessible change that we have seen is that the pandemic has proved that 90% of the jobs out there work remotely. Every position that can work from home has been mandated to do so during this pandemic. This is a huge victory for the disabled community. For many years now, people with disabilities have been fighting for the right to work remotely to create greater access, and they have often been denied. Thanks to the pandemic, the accommodation to work remotely is no longer considered unreasonable.
Another win for accessibility is the way we socialize with our peers and family. To keep each other safe, we are seeing a lot of events or social gatherings take place through video conference or chat, like Zoom. This I love! Someone who may be concerned about the accessibility of a physical space when gathering with others doesn’t have to worry since they don’t have to leave their own house. Those who are not able to drive don’t have to be concerned with finding transportation to a social gathering. Video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom, also offer closed captioning to those who may need it to interact with the people in a social setting. I no longer miss out on Taco Tuesday with my friends due to the lack of transportation. We’ve moved Taco Tuesday to Zoom!
This accessibility provides families with the ability to connect via video conferencing during the holidays, instead of having in-person gatherings. This create brings accessibility to the holiday season that was not there previously. Many people won’t have to worry about the accessibility of a physical space for the holidays or worry about feeling overwhelmed by too many people in the room.
We have also seen greater access to voting due to the pandemic. Many states allowed for mail-in voting this year, creating greater access for people to vote. Many were unable to vote before because of lack of transportation or other barriers.
Another way COVID-19 has created more accessibility is by the increased access to telehealth, which is having the ability to speak with a doctor over the phone or through video chat, without leaving your home. While this may not be ideal for all cases, conducting general checkups via telehealth makes it a lot easier for people who struggle to find transportation. We are also finding that more medical insurance providers are covering telehealth because of the pandemic.
Note: this blog is not meant to diminish the hardship or damage that COVID-19 has caused around the world. It is meant to allow us to find light wherever we can in these dark days.
About Isabella Bullock: Isabella, or Izzy for short, is an employment specialist for the Center of Independent Living. She is an iced coffee enthusiast who enjoys getting lost in a good book. Click here to learn more about Isabella.