• Major challenges for DeafBlind individuals during COVID-19 and other crises

    9 April 2020
  • In the US, a significant percentage of DeafBlind people live alone, in distant rural areas, or in isolation with very limited access to in-person assistance. And in times of crisis, such as the coronavirus disease outbreak, DeafBlind individuals may become even more isolated.

    COVID-19 is expected to get worse before we see its end. However, this will not be the only crisis in our lifetimes. In addition to the current spread of coronavirus, we may also face natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes and fires, as well as man-made catastrophes. In all of these situations, the ability to communicate will be compromised for DeafBlind people.

    Many DeafBlind individuals are signers and were raised in signing communities. As such, in times of reaching out to one’s support system, they are likely to turn to fellow signers. ”Being able to connect with my Deaf friend” is a ubiquitous preference among the demographic.

    myMMX db provides access to relay services as well as point-to-point communications to other real-time text-compatible videophones. This enables the DeafBlind to communicate with and provide support and advice to one another.

    COVID-19 impact

    The arrival of COVID-19 has heightened and highlighted how the challenges for DeafBlind individuals become more severe in times of crisis:

    • Working professionals are being asked to work from home. DeafBlind individuals may not have access to relay services to perform functions at home
    • Social distance etiquette places DeafBlind individuals in an awkward situation since culturally DeafBlind people are part of a culture that emphasizes constant contact
    • Some public advisories state that if a person experiences symptoms, they should first call their doctor and wait for the doctor to “permit” them to come into the office for further evaluation
    • Concerns about local and long distance travel mean that more DeafBlind individuals are staying at home
    • Mass hoardings have left some DeafBlind individuals concerned about not being able to call around to request assistance (i.e contact family member, request SSP/CN, etc)
    • Less reliable access to in-person interpreter services

    While the technology already exists to solve some of these challenges, access to technology is hampered by existing bureaucracy limitations. At nWise, we are committed to working with various government agencies to identify and remove these barriers to provide easier access to the technologies our community needs. We are aware of the situation and strive to ramp up our production and development processes, launching new features and enhancements scheduled in our roadmap sooner to our community.

    Would you like to learn more about nWise and how myMMX db can facilitate the situation of DeafBlind individuals? Don’t hesitate to get in touch.

    Further reading on this topic

    myMMX db

    Picture of Chicago based Bryen M. Yunashko, DeafBlind National Advocacy Specialist
    Bryen M. Yunashko from Chicago has long advocated for the Deaf and DeafBlind communities on everything from captioning to accessibility in technology and culture. Bryen is working with myMMX db in the US.