Legally blind man facing added costs because of COVID-19
REGINA -- A legally blind man says he is facing more challenges because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Rick Neustaeter was born with a condition that has caused his vision to deteriorate. He is considered legally blind, and needs some assistance to be as independent as possible.
“I’ve had a couple of senior friends of mine... that have been helping me out for a long time. They would help me around the house or make meals, things like that,” said Neustaeter. “But, I don’t really like to put them in the line of fire as it stands now.”
Neustaeter is hesitant to use public transit right now, because he doesn’t want to be around others and possibly be exposed to COVID-19.
“So, it’s going to be higher costs for either cabs or delivery costs. Not to mention the higher costs of food and other things,” he said.
Even when he is able to get to the grocery store, Neustaeter said he can’t see the signs directing where to go.
“It’d be hard for a visually impaired or blind person to get around nowadays, to stay away from people or have people stay away from you. In stores, knowing where the arrows are to go in the right direction and not mess up,” said Neustaeter.
Christall Beaudry, executive director of CNIB Foundation Saskatchewan, said she has heard from members who are concerned about missing signage on store requirements.
“Different markings in your stores, usually they are on the ground and it might be a taped arrow to show you what direction to go. And for someone who is blind or partially sighted, they won’t be able to see that arrow,” she said.
Beaudry said some people may rely on a guide, cane or a guide dog. However, it can still be difficult to measure a two-metre distance from others.
“If you see someone that may be struggling, you don’t really know what their story is and if they have sight loss or a different ability,” said Beaudry. “So, we just ask that people to be kind (and) be patient with others. If you see someone with a white cane or a guide dog, know that they probably need you to keep that social distance.”
Beaudry said businesses should consider providing a verbal description, describing the layout and directions to travel, and a written description of the direction to travel on their website.
“And when using images or maps on websites, please include Alt text, the written copy, so it is accessible for people who are blind or partially sighted,” said Beaudry.
As for Neustaeter, he is hoping the federal government will expand its COVID-19 financial assistance to those with disabilities, so he can pay for added costs.
“It’s just hard living independently and alone as I do as visually impaired and blind already,” he said. “This just adds more fuel to it to try and survive off of a disability income.”