Eyeway Helpdesk- Supporting Blind community during the Coronavirus Pandemic

As Covid-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the country, the blind community continues to be the worst hit. With social distancing becoming mandatory to contain the deadly virus, blind people are forced to stay at home. This means that many of them, who previously worked in the unorganized sector have now lost their source of income.

In the Unlock Phase 1, some visually impaired people got an opportunity to report back to work. However, limited public transport facilities have left the blind workforce dejected. Eyeway Helpdesk has received numerous calls seeking assistance on this issue.

Visually impaired Siddharth from Navi Mumbai was hired as a housekeeping staff through a consultancy. With nationwide lockdown imposed in March, he could not attend office, resulting in loss of monthly income. In June, Siddharth heaved a sigh of relief when his employer asked him to join work. But when he stepped out of his home to the nearest bus depot to reach his workplace, he was in for a rude shock as the bus conductor did not allow him to board the bus on grounds of his blindness.

For three consecutive days, this discrimination continued till he reached out to Eyeway.  The counsellor advised him to seek the consultancy’s help in arranging for a travel pass, but they declined. He was then advised to wait for a few days until the restrictions were eased. Luckily, a few days later, he was allowed to board the bus and he could finally report to work.

Another visually impaired caller, Neelesh Patil from Nashik who works as a lift man in a private hospital wasn’t paid his salary since the lockdown was imposed. He has now resumed work but due to unavailability of public transport, he has to walk for an hour every day to reach his workplace.

Neelesh has been constantly in touch with Eyeway Mumbai team, sharing his daily struggles and seeking information on new guidelines that could benefit him.

Trusting Eyeway Helpdesk as a reliable source of information, blind callers seek solutions to get through these testing times. For the blind and visually impaired community, social distancing is proving to be a big challenge as they rely extensively on touch and assistance from others. In such circumstances, accessing services like public transport, medical facilities or day to day necessities is doubly hard for them.