TOKYO — A Tokyo-based guide dog association is using its website to introduce everyday encounters that have been troubling people with visual disabilities in the age of COVID-19 by using easy-to-understand illustrations to help the public become aware of the difficulties specific to people with limited vision. Some examples include people with low vision being unable to find where they can disinfect their hands or take their body temperatures at stores.
The public interest incorporated association Eyemate has an educational web page about guide dogs for children. On its special edition, the group posted a discussion among seven people, mainly Tokyoites with low vision who live with guide dogs. The web page lists changes in lifestyles and everyday encounters that have caused trouble in a conversational format.
Some of the examples include: when one interviewee found themselves unable to find anyone to ask for directions due to reduced human traffic outside during a coronavirus state of emergency when people were asked to refrain from going out, and when they’re on a train and the windows are open for ventilation it’s hard for them to hear the announcement as the noise from outside could be loud. Other instances include being unable to know when the line for the cash register at a store has moved due to social distancing between people. In pre-COVID times, those with limited vision would apparently notice their line had moved by the movement of the person in front of them.
Eyemate representative director Takao Shioya told the Mainichi Shimbun, “People try to avoid getting in contact with others in the coronavirus crisis and don’t check on guide dog users as much compared to before (the pandemic). We hope (with the website) people will learn about circumstances faced by those with vision loss amid the coronavirus outbreak and talk to those who appear to be having trouble (if they see them outside).”
The website can be reached at https://www.eyemate.org/kids/special/