INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana School for the Blind is concerned about its students, saying many who are visually impaired are struggling to social distance and not touch things while out in public.
Tara Abella teaches second grade at the school. She, herself, is mostly blind and has been faced with additional challenges during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Going to the grocery store, not being able to read the signs and see the arrows and not knowing how to navigate the store,” she listed. “I’m listening to people’s voices. I’m listening to people walking and try to stay as far away from people as I can.”
Abella uses a guide dog and while Aladdin is well trained, he is not trained to keep six feet away from other people.
“So, we’re doing things like ordering online. We’re calling ahead to stores to figure out what the new rules are and we’re navigating it that way,” she told CBS4.
Abella was sent home at the beginning of March when the school shut down. Since then, she has been staying with family.
Abella isn’t the only person who is trying to adjust to this new normal. Her second graders, and 122 other full-time students ages three to 22, have been doing e-learning since the pandemic began.
“It has definitely been a challenge,” Laura Alvarado, Indiana Blind Children’s Foundation, said. “I don’t know if anybody was truly prepared to face the weight of what we’re going through.”
Because the students don’t have braille-accessible technology at home, they have, in some ways, struggled. It’s why the Indiana Blind Children’s Foundation is now working to raise more than $400,000. Their special tech can sometimes cost up to $6,000 each. The students will need their own devices, especially if the school ends up shutting down again or offers a hybrid class structure in the fall.
The foundation has a task force up and running to try and get donations. They are also coordinating a training course and a tech support plan once they have the tools they need.