My pandemic experience – Robert

Robert walking in the hills

Covid-19 has affected us all in so many different ways. Here, our chairman Robert describes his experiences of being deafblind during the pandemic.

When the first lockdown began, I immediately noticed how quiet the roads were. It was very welcome and I was amazed how much birdsong I could hear – all the more so as I’ve only been able to hear birds at all in the last 20 years because hearing aids have improved.

Social distancing is difficult as I’m not always aware of others approaching and how far away they might be. Shops that I know well became obstacle courses as I can’t make out floor and stop markings, so I may have skipped a few queues! Masks also make it impossible to lipread shopkeepers and other customers, which has resulted in some interesting conversations.

Living a more solitary “stay at home” life meant I hadn’t travelled by train or bus since early March last year. When I did use the train over Christmas, wearing a mask was the least of my worries as I’d forgotten how difficult it is to make out things inside the carriage and I had to rely on others to find a seat. It reminded me of the importance of routine and how not travelling or being close to larger groups of people for a long time, really impacts on one’s confidence.

Even when rules were relaxed and we were able to meet up with others outside, not being able to shake hands or hug is not the same. The sense of isolation and not being in-touch is very real for many, particularly for those who also endure sight and hearing loss.

I am an member of a local hillwalking group, who I join for regular guided walks. Of course, this had to stop in March but my wife, Louise, and I walk together more often instead. Louise often has our dogs on the lead, which makes it difficult for her to guide me as well. Consequently, I learnt to walk with two walking poles, feeling my way behind her, whilst she warns me of any obstacles. I gradually grew in confidence and by the summer I was even able to cross the stepping stones across the river by myself, feeling for each stone in turn. It is slow going but I love the increased independence!

We would love to hear your pandemic experiences. You can email us at info@deafblind.org.uk or write to us at:

Deafblind UK
National Centre for Deafblindness
19 Rainbow Court
Paston Ridings
Peterborough
PE4 7UP

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