Adapting during COVID
As we enter the second half of 2020, there is hope. Our staff embrace the opportunity to adapt services to meet the needs of the vibrant community that we serve. Our clients rise to the challenge of life during the pandemic with grit and determination.
Adapting the Classroom
Three weeks ago, students returned to our Rehabilitation Center with a safety plan in place. They could choose between remote learning or in-person classes. Most opted to return to our Minneapolis classrooms to study technology, Braille, keyboarding, cooking and daily living skills, and safe travel skills (orientation and mobility). We are all wearing masks, social distancing whenever possible, and adhering to a regular schedule of cleaning and disinfecting. Meanwhile, our instructors have developed online training for students who prefer to learn remotely. Demand for our one-on-one training continues to grow; since reopening, we have given tours to five prospective students.
Connecting Deafblind Minnesotans
Isolation is a major risk for people who live with combined hearing and vision loss. Now, factor in the social distancing of the Stay at Home and Stay Safe orders. In short, DeafBlind Services Minnesota’s community faces a major challenge to stay connected to each other during the pandemic.
During the Stay at Home Order, DeafBlind Services Minnesota and Vision Loss Resources staff delivered groceries and prescriptions to clients who had no other support. Clients kept up with the news and expressed their concerns through ongoing online chats and emails with staff. Now, as Minnesota continues to reopen, deafblind Minnesotans are returning to a more active life outside of the home, and they are beginning to meet with staff members.
Thriving with technology (and telephones)
Most people served by Vision Loss Resources are older adults — in other words, the folks who are at the highest risk during the pandemic. Before COVID, they thrived during in-home, one-on-one services, as well as group activities that brought them together to share stories of grief and hope about vision loss. As you might imagine, most of these services are not available in their usual forms right now, especially not in senior residences.
So how do people with vision loss keep connected during the time of social distancing? With their can-do attitudes, they are adapting to technology faster than they ever imagined: joining our fitness and technology classes via Zoom, support groups via Facebook and Zoom, and — coming next month — book club and game day via video conference call.
That said, don’t underestimate the power of an old-fashioned phone call: our staff have made almost 1,000 calls to clients since the pandemic started. These check-in calls are cherished opportunities for clients to share, vent, joke, and ask for help. Our staff members are here for them at every step.
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