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From ‘Frying Pan to Fire’ Unprecedented Challenges of Covid-19 on Blind People in Sri Lanka

  • T Suraweera ,SLIIT Business School, New Kandy Road, Malabe, Sri Lanka (theekshana.s@sliit.lk )
  • S Hasintha ,SLIIT Business School, New Kandy Road, Malabe, Sri Lanka (uocsankha@gmail.com)
  • S Gunasekara ,SLIIT Business School, New Kandy Road, Malabe, Sri Lanka (sohancg@gmail.com)
Abstract

COVID-19 has shattered all wakes of people’s lives in most countries in diverse proportions.  Sri Lanka being no exception, has experienced the spread in early March 2020 and later in September in the same year. Since then, the Government has implemented a wide range of far-reaching health measures and several other social restrictions with the view to combating the spread of the disease. Among the badly challenged fractions of the population due to pandemic was the people with disabilities. It is known that the persons with visually impairments and blindness represent the majority of this vulnerable community. The impact of the pandemic on the blind people are mostly untouched.  Purpose of this paper is to examine the challenges of COVID-19 experienced by the blind people in the light of their social and economic life. A qualitative case study approach was adopted for data collection.  Thirty-six blind persons representing of diverse livelihood activities, selected through purposive sampling method were interviewed. The interview transcriptions were initially examined through word cloud and subjected to thematic analysis for examining changes to social and economic activities. Results highlight that owing to COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, blind people have been severally disturbed in several aspects, some of which are unique to this community. The key challenges identified are related to mobility and transportation, acquisition of daily needs, disturbed social interactions, income earning opportunities, and information and communication. The precautionary measures implemented on COVID-19 pandemic has brought about disturbances that are relatively severer for the blind people on moving forwards with their day-to-day life activities, than the sighted people. The decision makers dealing with pandemic situations should take into consideration of inclusive policies.

Keywords: Covid-19 Pandemic. Challenges to Disabled, Visually Impaired and Blind.

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