Connectivity during a pandemic – a reflection

As we approach the first anniversary of Covid-19 being part of our daily lives we cannot help but reflect on the last year. How different life is, for now. How far we have all come with embracing technology (even more).

Venn Diagram of Everyday disabled life and Covid-19 as two circles.  Intersection is Isolation and inaccessibility.

I stumbled upon this schematic on Instagram (unfortunately I don’t know the source). It highlights the fact that Covid-19 has affected us all with regards to SOCIAL ISOLATION and INACCESSIBILITY. But where this pandemic is a temporary stress or inconvenience for most of us, for someone living with a disability it is magnified as they are already more impacted on.

It has always been a dream of mine that all our service owners would use and embrace technology. And we know this is not the case. But the pandemic has certainly increased the need for reaching out to technology.

Many service owners were already regular users of technology and are experts in how they communicate, keep contact via email and use social media. A residential service owner (cocooning during lockdown 1) found a way of connecting with family via Facebook messenger calls so that he could see what was going on on the farm and how the house pets are getting on. Doing this was the motivation for mastering computer control radar mouse via a head switch. Others purchased phones and set up Whatsapp via Grid 3 which enabled them to increase their reach for contact with family and friends far and near. The Enable Ireland Cork Adult Services Facebook group gives us a safe space to hang out and keep contact and it enables us to get to know each other better. And the Virtual Service on Teams is so fantastic we don’t know how we ever coped without it!

I send a “Smiley face” and a “Thumbs up” to each parent and carer who also opened their

eyes to smartphones and wifi and “click on the link” during this time! Ye are also superheroes.

Young lady taking to elderly lady on a video call.

 My own granny, born in 1924, is embracing technology and even though her wifi can only be described as “seriously dodgy” where she lives at the bottom of a mountain in a very remote part of South Africa, it enables us to connect, because who knows when we’ll be able to hug each other again.

We are reminded of MP Radabaugh’s famous words once again: “For most people technology makes things easier. For people with disabilities however, technology makes things possible.”

Gerlene Kennedy, Occupational Therapist, Enable Ireland Adult Services Cork.

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