For those who are blind or visually impaired, the pandemic has been particularly challenging.
Visually impaired people experience loneliness at higher levels compared to the general population, said Daniel Norris, supervisor of adult services with the Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
“Vision loss is a disability of access, it disconnects you from the environment around you,” said Norris, who is blind. “If you look statistically, studies have shown that you have higher rates of depression among people who are visually impaired.”
Jerry Doody has been blind since birth.
“For me the social distance when I was walking on the street,” Doody said. “In the beginning it was very difficult because people would walk up to me and I had no idea they were there.”
Tom Frank says he began to lose his vision when he was 21 and got progressively worse over the next 50 years.
“People are afraid that people are looking at you,” Frank said. “My answer is how do you know, you can’t see them.”
Doody wants people to know, communication is key.
“Please talk to us and ask if you see something,” he said. “It’s always nice to have someone say hello.”