Why Blind schools should not be in a hurry to reopen Author Mugambi Paul

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Being blind myself, Covid 2019 has paused barriers.

The barrier        s range from mobility, lack of implementation of the famo         us new norm social distancing and the fear which Corona has create        d.                    

I believe having experienced this,

It is prudent for learners who are blind and low vision are guaranteed

 reasonable accommodation as government plans to reopen.

Will the ministry of education ensure Blind and personally sighted access education?  With the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) accessibility which has become a human rights principle, be adpopted? This is a specific norm that obliges States Parties to take pertinent measures to ensure access to persons with disabilities, on equal terms with others, to the physical environment, transport, information and communications, including information and communication systems and technologies, and other services and facilities open to the public or for public use, both in urban and rural. Areas so that persons with disabilities can live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life.

With the advent of Covid,  a blind and partially sighted learner cannot be grouped with the same requirements of other Special Schools or alternatively with ordinary schools such as the issues of social distancing since touch is a major feature for blind and partially sighted learners. The students are also required to move around the school premises and hostels and are assisted by other learners and staff at these schools.

 LOW VISION PEOPLE AND THE RISK OF CORONAVIRUS.                           Most probably this may not have come to your mind, whether you live with low vision or not. In view of the manner in which Coronavirus is transmitted, it behooves all people living with low vision to be extra cautious during these pivotal moments. When reading, as low vision people, they are forced by the said circumstance to draw the material being read very close to their eyes, thus increasing the risk of inhaling the droplets containing the virus, which may have been left there by an infected individual. When interacting with our phones, tablets, iPads, and any other electronic device, please let’s ensure we sanitize them before use, especially if they may have landed in the hands of individuals who you may not be sure of their health status. You don’t have to buy a sanitizer, but you can get a surgical spirit and apply on your device before use. Surgical spirit is alcohol based thus making it most appropriate alternative for sanitization. Since we cannot sanitize newspapers and other reading materials on paper, we can get someone to read for us or use magnifier if possible.

 

 

 

 

The students also use their fingers for reading braille and using braille writing machines or to feel an object. Therefore, there is a greater need to sanitise equipment and surfaces more regularly.

 

Another major concern is the poor infrastructure at these schools especially with inadequate facilities at the hostel.  The students will not be able to practice social distancing since the hostels are full and, in many instances, there is overcrowding in the hostels. Mealtimes will also pose challenges with students assembling in the dining room for their meals.