WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The blind and visually impaired are working to adapt to new guidelines during the pandemic.
"This pandemic has been very challenging. The social distancing. Being blind or vision impaired, we rely a lot on touch, and close quarter interactions, sighted guides. That’s when someone assists you by you holding your elbow. That is all a no-no," Anastasia Powell said.
She said trips to the grocery store are difficult. An employee of the grocery store would serve as a sighted guide, holding onto their elbow to get around. With new guidelines, she has to hold onto the cart while someone pulls the other end to lead her around the store. Powell said the new in-store traffic flows are frustrating.
"I have to depend on someone sighted to navigate me because we can't see the arrows or I can't feel the markers on the floor because they're not tactile. I'm having to rely on an employee of the store to guide me through the new experience," she said.
She works for IFB Solutions, the largest employer of the blind in the country. Because of that, the company took extra steps to keep employees safe.
"We do make products for the military. We knew we had to stay open very early. We understand our employees and their needs. We started with sanitizing, practiced social distancing, 6 feet apart. We have sighted employees on hand to help out with that," Nicole Ducouer said.
Powell said she hopes some positive comes from the pandemic.
"People are pulling together and helping each other, and I hope that stays in place even after this pandemic," she added.