Support for visually impaired to access essential services

Those who are blind or have low vision can be assured they will not be left behind during the Covid-19 lockdown, a Blind Low Vision NZ representative says.

The organisation, formerly known as the Blind Foundation, announced today it had teamed-up with similar support services to help those living with sight loss get access to essential services.

Blind Low Vision NZ chief executive John Mulka said gaining access to services, including the supermarket and pharmacy, were a particular concern for people who were blind or had low vision.

“While people can use public transport, Taxis and Uber’s ride sharing app to get to an essential service, many eye conditions develop later in life and those over 70 have been asked to remain at home to limit their risk of contracting Covid-19.’’

Those part of the initiative had advocated for supermarkets to prioritise their online services to people who could not physically get to a store, many of which had got on board.

“We want no-one to fall through the cracks and not have access to the essentials.’’

Many clients had limited or no access to technology which could lead them to feeling even more isolated at this time, Mr Mulka said.

“Working collaboratively with blind, low vision and deafblind organisations, we are phoning our community checking-in on the health and wellbeing and offering support.’’

Those who did not have access to essential services were being connected to organisations including Age Concern and Civil Defence.

Blind Low Vision NZ had been classed as an essential service and 95% of staff were working from home and delivering service remotely, he said.

“It’s critical for us to keep providing practical and emotional support to people who are blind or have low vision to keep doing the things they need and want to do.”

 - staff reporter

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