Incapacity, Work and Coronavirus: What Occurs Now?

Disability, Work and Coronavirus: What Happens Now?

"It makes it so much easier when there are no obstacles in the situation other than not being physically there," he said.

The flourish of accessibility is not universal: a 2016 survey by the Pew Research Center found that people with disabilities overall have less access to and use of technology. While remote access has increased inclusion, it has been associated with a decrease in physical accessibility. Many of the people interviewed for this article said they miss seeing friends and attending in-person events, just like everyone else. Olivia Mahan, a wheelchair user in Pueblo, Colorado, said, "Overall, it's been a limitation on the things I can do."

The transition to remote participation has been complicated for many people with invisible disabilities, whose needs have long been excluded from traditional accessibility guidelines. The surreal, alienating aspects of virtual communication are even more difficult for neurodivergent people who may need more time and space to process, said Héctor Ramírez, a disability activist with autism and a psychiatric disability.

"It meant a lot of isolation, almost a sense of delusion at times for people who already feel very alone," said Mx. Said Ramírez. "We have trouble making social connections, so withdrawing is difficult."

Some people enjoy their new digital life precisely because their disabilities now go unnoticed. Andrew Johnson, who is blind, recently got a job as a contact tracer in Boston. Since the position is completely remote and his new employees did not meet him personally, no one was initially aware of his visual impairment.

"It was cool to see how people would react to my work on their own, without any confusing variables," he said. In previous jobs, he often had the feeling that colleagues qualified his performance as "pretty good for a blind person" and did not treat him like a non-disabled person. Now he said he was satisfied when his employees were surprised that, despite different parameters, they could clearly do the same job.


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