Don’t Throw Away the Gains We’ve Made
How will our world change after the pandemic?
Will we go back to normal and try to forget all of this ever happened?
Will we just change a few habits and procedures, or will we go further and make big changes we once thought impossible, but now seem both practicable and sensible?
For the first time in modern history the world’s population has had to come face-to-face with a sense of isolation and feelings of exclusion from normal life.
The world was disabled. The way we used to go about our lives - the normal everyday things - we have not been able to do. In effect we were disabled.
But for many people, the sense of isolation and detachment isn’t a temporary phase; they aren’t waiting out the restrictions for normality to resume.
Many of those living with an impairment will not be able to go back to “business-as-usual” after the pandemic has cleared. This is their usual.
However, there is an upside. The pandemic has resulted in some surprising and unexpected benefits for people who were already forced to isolate or confine themselves.
Bitter and Sweet
It’s a bittersweet feeling knowing that it has taken a world catastrophe to see improvements in the lives of those suffering impairments for which they’ve been advocating for years.
We’ve seen the swift implementation of home working, pharmaceutical supplies delivered by Australia Post, bulk-billed Telehealth services, dedicated shopping hours for the impaired and elderly, and a huge upswing in the use of virtual conferencing technology.
The acceptance of living life online has struck a chord with many impaired people, who have long fought for the option to work, learn, connect, and do business from home.
We are finally getting some of the flexibility and support we’ve been seeking for decades to be more productive.
Some of the Gains
Most of my visits to the doctor are routine to have another set of scripts issued. The move towards bulk-billed Telehealth services means that I and many others have a much more convenient and practical way of attending our regular medical appointments.
Not only are GP's emailing and faxing images of prescriptions to pharmacies, but even referral letters no longer have to be printed out and handed to patients.
All of the previous security fears have been thrown out the window, and you wonder if they were overblown in the first place.
As restaurants are primarily doing takeaways, the majority have made their menus available online which means the sight impaired or those with severe dyslexia can now use their screen readers to access a significantly higher number and range of menus.
And who would have ever imagined that video conferencing platforms would start to use closed captioning so those with hearing impairments now can also participate and enjoy the technology?
Live concerts, museum visits and film festivals have also quickly gone online giving people with impairments so many amazing entertainment options previously unavailable to them.
Technology has long provided us with the opportunity to experience the world in innovative ways,
and through the Coronavirus pandemic, society has finally embraced the benefit and importance of access.
It is really important to remember that these adaptions have been shown to be effective. It’s a shame it took a global pandemic to get here, but nonetheless here we are, so please let’s not throw away the gains we’ve made.