Accessibility is the primary problem for Turkey's visually impaired citizens, and the COVID-19 outbreak has further limited the movement of the population who is at a heightened risk of infection. Ceyhun Demir, a visually impaired teacher, shared his experience during the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes he had to make to his lifestyle.
Demir, who teaches history at a high school in the capital Ankara, said that while the visually impaired are capable of living independent lives, they occasionally need some assistance. But assistance means being in close proximity to others, a risk at a time when maintaining social distancing is the key to preventing infections. “For instance, we have to depend on others to cross a street. This means we cannot be socially distant. We don’t know if the person we ask for help from is infected or has been in touch with someone infected,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Wednesday, one day before International Day of Disabled Persons. “We can be infected too, and this also puts others at risk,” he said.
Another source of risk stems from their need to find their way by touching. “We have to touch to find an object or a device. We have to touch the surface of things. Any surface we have to touch could have been used before by someone infected. This is especially difficult while I am at work,” he complained.
Demir said people who are at higher risk from COVID-19 can be put on administrative leave until the threat is over. “We are both at risk of infection and infecting others easily,” he pointed out. Civil servants ages 60 and older and those in the public sector with chronic illnesses have already been placed on administrative leave and in some places, are given the option to work from home. Demir now teaches remotely as schools were closed last month after they reopened in September, but other civil servants continue going to work.
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