„Borta bra men hemma bäst!“

It’s a Swedish proverb, basically saying: “It is nice to be away for a while, but home is always the best place to stay”. What did you expect? We are in a crisis situation and in a quarantine lockdown; so in my case, it is the first time I am spending my entire holidays at home with my family since ages!

So I recently had a longer phone call with Saman – one of my friends from Sweden – and we talked about the pros for staying at home. At some point, I remembered this Swedish proverb Saman taught me earlier. Five words, which cheered up both of us that day.

Sure I planned to spontaneously visit friends during the Easter holidays, but fortunately I haven’t booked anything yet, and I wouldn’t have been on the go that long anyway…

I still stay in touch with my friends though, and now that no public events can take place until further notice, a lot of meet-ups went for an online solution. Good lord, I have never been introduced to so many voice-chat and conference services in such a short manner of time! However, not all the conference services are accessible all the way. I eventually got the hang of the most important functions, but it takes a while to figure it all out. I think it works because I am familiar with a lot of accessibility issues and know different ways to deal with them. Nevertheless, I’m sure that a lot of screen reader users keep struggling with them and don’t find a workaround because it isn’t obvious how to deal with certain accessibility issues.

Anyway, a great advantage is that we can join the meetings of our choice, no matter where we are. This way, I also manage to show up at those meetings I couldn’t join for ages, such as the Couchsurfing meeting at Kosmos, Hamburg! Another advantage is that our meet-up spots are reserved 24/7 and we can come and talk whenever we feel like it.

Besides all that, I keep myself busy working on my final project which is part of my – still ongoing – traineeship and learn for the final exams which are already postponed from late April to mid-June.

We stay in touch with our colleagues online and work – just as usual – 8 hours a day from home. I personally try to take advantage of this situation as much as possible and try to not think about the cons that much, such as no bigger gatherings, being bound to my home-place, etc. With “taking advantage of this situation” I especially mean the current working situation, “home-office” for short. This way, I think I am more concentrated and focused, especially when working on bigger projects (such as my final project) that don’t require constant team-work, except for occasional voice conferences to share results and status updates regarding the progress of the project, exchanging suggestions on how to move on.

About my living-situation, I am currently staying at home with my family, so I can arrange myself from home pretty easily, and I thank my family for the great support during the lockdown.

Of course, this is not the case for all people who are blind and visually impaired, and ICC Belgium has interviewed a couple of blind and visually impaired youngsters from different countries who talked about the current situation at their place and how they deal with it. The episodes with their answers are released weekly, and you can find them on their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/iccbelgium.

Additionally, you might want to check out some COVID-19-specific information given out by your government and your local organizations for the blind and visually impaired.

“Blind Low Vision NZ”, an organization based in New Zeeland, posted an article with some general information about COVID-19, including an audio described video on how to wash your hands properly. Feel free to check it out.

Please note that some of the information are country-specific, so you should try to find further information in your local area; but I think this post at least explains the most important rules and suggestions you might want to follow.

Well, that’s all for now I’m afraid… I hope you are all fine and if you would like to share some of your tips & tricks on how to cope with the lockdown and stay happy, don’t hesitate to leave a comment!

Cheers, and stay healthy!

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