Honoring Global Accessibility Awareness Day with Remote Learning

At Society for the Blind, we always say that people with vision loss can still do almost anything they want, they just have to adapt to do it another way. But when the pandemic hit, we had to do more than adapt – we had to create a new way to serve our blind and low-vision community through remote learning. In just 48 hours, we created a new model to offer services to people with vision loss in their homes during the stay-at-home order and beyond.

We implemented our remote learning model just in time for Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 21. For the past seven years, Global Accessibility Awareness Day has helped people talk, think and learn about digital access and inclusion. The website dedicated to this important day states, “From both a civil rights and a business perspective, people with disabilities are underserved by today’s digital products.”

At Society for the Blind, we are committed to having blind or low-vision instructors for all of our classes – uncommon in blindness services. Because 100 percent of our instructors are blind or low-vision, they knew that we needed to use remote learning during the stay-at-home order to ensure students continued their work toward independence – and they knew it needed to be accessible. So they adapted our in-person classes to a remote learning model to provide an accessible way for our students to learn from their homes.

“From its inception, Society for the Blind has been about people who are blind helping each other,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director. “For the past 10 years, we have made a concerted effort to be a model employer of people who are blind or have low vision, striving to make all positions accessible for people with vision loss. Our students are able to adjust to their vision loss with greater confidence and sense of support because their instructors truly get it.”

From offering mobility training, support groups, our after-school academy and workshops online, to sending Braille kits and magnifiers to homes, we are still providing a community of support to people with vision loss, despite not gathering in the same room.

“I am so grateful for distance learning,” said Terri Walsh, one of our orientation and mobility students. “At the start of this shutdown, I was just beginning to feel confident with the skills I was learning. Now I am looking forward to traveling on foot with my cane to all of the destinations that I have virtually visited!”

We are proud of our new accessible remote learning model created by our instructors who all have vision loss. Please join us in honoring Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 21 so all people can access the best technology.