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Friday, 20 March 2020 17:46

Welcome to the world of Isolation

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Alex Elle: “I’m thankful for my struggle because without it I wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength.”

I have addressed the isolation I experience because of Usher Syndrome on many occasions, how isolation can impact on my mental health and every day life.

Helen Keller described DeafBlindness “Blindness seperates people from things; deafness seperates people from people.”  I would imagine many now being asked to work from home, self isolate or social distancing because of Covid19 are feeling a level of isolation they have not experienced before and finding it difficult and it absolutely is. 

My condition is progressive and whilst described as DeafBlindness the add-ons are often as challenging. 

The isolation I sometimes feel makes me feel depressed and anxious, often claustrophobic, fortunately it doesn’t last but there are often no tell tale signs, no rhyme nor reason as to why and when it triggers itself!

I have experienced this since my early teens which coincides with my Usher Syndrome diagnosis!  Thankfully I have learnt to manage it, however it isn’t always easy.  I have accepted these feelings are all part of the person I am and I have accepted that it really is ok to not be okay.

I have been observing my own Dad who as those who know him will confirm a healthy, happy and chatty person.  His work takes him out and about in his car, he visits his clients in their homes, coffee shops, hotels and occasionally his office.  He attends conferences, seminars and meetings all over the UK.  He cycles daily, he plays squash, loves his sport and above all he loves people, he’s old school! 

I have helped him advise all clients he will, until further notice be available by telephone, skype, FaceTime, email or text for obvious reasons and thank goodness he is still able to get on but he is struggling not having the usual interaction with people.  For him this has certainly been a time to reflect on how fortunate he is that usually nothing holds him back and also to have more of an understanding as to how difficult and challenging life can be for those who are regularly isolated through no fault of their own! 

This whole coronavirus outbreak has made me feel very anxious, also very sad that lots of my work travelling has had to be postponed or cancelled, that I am unable to meet with my clients or colleagues, however it has also made me feel incredibly fortunate that I can and often do work remotely thanks to access to the accessible tools I have access to, the internet, accessible apps and websites.   It has also made me very aware of just how much needs to be done to make online fully accessible.  It also demonstrates how those organisations who have and regularly address accessibility are now in the best position as more and more people have to go into isolation and rely on online services!

It shouldn’t be that a pandemic influences organisations to do the right thing in making online and online services more accessible but that accessibility and inclusion be priority all the time. 

I feel the anxiety of the nation but it has been quite an eye opener (excuse the pun) not only my own father but so many others who ordinarily have no accessibility restrictions no longer able to go about their daily business and are struggling.  I’m hopeful these difficult times will be a time for us all to reflect and think outside the box, that it brings out the better in people, a new understanding and empathy for others who don’t have a choice, isolated by various disabilities or conditions.

I have spoken to my Grandad on the phone, thankful my ReSound LiNXQuattro allow this, wouldn’t be a blog without mentioning him!  He is 80 years old and in that vulnerable group, he lives 200 miles from me.  Grandad was something of a technophobe, however, I have dragged him into the world of technology and told him to keep his iPad and iPhone fully charged and to make FaceTime calls to us all because we want to see him, not just to check he is well but to make sure he doesn’t feel isolated. 

My grandad always checks in on me, now the tables have turned, we all have to try to do the same at this difficult time.

Technology is keeping me connected to work, to my clients and colleagues and big thanks to my family who are keeping me as positive as I can be, I am well.

Jerry Springer always said “Take care of yourself and each other.” 



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