The National Federation of the Blind is closely monitoring the COVID-19 emergency, which is changing everyone’s lives but has unique effects on blind people.
The health and safety of all of our members, colleagues, and friends is always our top priority. This page provides resources that may be particularly useful to blind people facing challenges during the emergency.
General News and Information
- International and National Sources: World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control
- NFB-NEWSLINE:® Access “Breaking News” for the latest updates on COVID-19 around the United States.
- Accessible Data: Access this “flattening the curve” graph Desmos.
- Google Microsite for COVID-19 Information
- Accessible COVID-19 Statistics Tracker
- Accessible Tool for Checking Risk Factors for COVID-19
Medical and Healthcare Services
- Avoiding Disability-Based Discrimination in Treatment Rationing: Review the guiding principles that provide a more detailed explanation of how the requirements set forth in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services bulletin would apply and how states and healthcare providers can take steps to modify policies and practices to avoid disability discrimination.
- Accessibility Issues: If you are experiencing issues with access to medical portals such as apps and telehealth, please email AccessibleNOW@nfb.org.
Government Payments and Benefits
- CARES Act Economic Impact Payments: One aspect of the most recent COVID-19 relief law, the CARES Act, is an Economic Impact Payment for most Americans. Please review our Economic Impact Payments guide that provides some general information about who is eligible and how much you can expect to receive.
Unemployment Insurance, Social Security Retirement or Disability, and Supplemental Security Income: Unemployment insurance is a state and federal program that usually provides temporary, partial replacement of wages for employees who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. The CARES Act made a number of changes to UI law that may benefit blind people. Please review our unemployment insurance fact sheet.
- Distance Learning: The National Federation of the Blind provides online activities and lessons via video and digital instruction. Review our distance education resources.
- State Guidance for Schools: Review individual states' guidance for special education in elementary and secondary schools.
- Advocacy in Education: For information on the rights of blind students and resources for self-advocacy and accessibility, start with this recent blog post.
- Learn the Zoom Platform: The audiobook Meet Me in the Cloud is now freely available. It is a three-hour, accessible tutorial of the Zoom platform (please note: at the time it was produced, several instances of accessibility glitches needed to be pointed out; however, with current operating systems, and the latest versions of Zoom, most bugs have been resolved).
- AccessibleNOW: For information about our #AccessibleNOW campaign and the recent Twitter chat that focused on e-learning, visit our AccessibleNOW page.
- Accessibility Switchboard: The Accessibility Switchboard is a web portal that provides freely available resources and guides for those who want to improve accessibility in their organizations. Read the new article, "Accessibility and Keeping Employees and Students Connected from Home."
- All Students: Vispero is offering free licensing for JAWS for blind students (college and K-12) until at least May 2020.
- College Students: Aira is offering free service for any college student for the remainder of the spring semester ending in May 2020. If you know of a student who could benefit from Aira for their distance learning, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the program or call 1-800-835-1934.
Because some jurisdictions are halting or limiting public transportation, there is concern regarding transportation available to blind people who need to travel to buy essentials or for testing or other medical reasons. If you are not sure of the status of public transportation in your area or need additional transportation options, please contact your affiliate president.
Affiliate Connection for State and Local Resources
With directives being different from state to state, connect with your affiliate president or point of contact in order to find state and local resources. This includes transportation, grocery delivery, volunteer services, and more.
Flatten Inaccessibility Curve Survey
- Flattening the Inaccessibility Curve Survey: AIRA, NFB, Louisiana Tech, and many other organizations in the field of blindness distributed a survey to explore the increased accessibility barriers due to the coronavirus crisis in early April of 2020. Results of the survey are coming soon.
Breaking News from the NFB
Read the latest news in the NFB press room.
Per the March 23, 2020 executive order of the Maryland governor regarding the closure of non-essential businesses, the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute will be closing until further notice. However, we will continue our important work remotely for now. Connect with leaders or staff via phone or email. For a contact directory, please call 410-659-9314 and select option 3. While much of our program service continues, this closure means we are not able to operate our Independence Market resulting in our inability to ship literature and materials to blind people including our free white cane program.
For more information about COVID-19 and its effects on the blind community, please read "Coming Together During COVID-19: Concerns and Connections" from our blog. The National Federation of the Blind continues to identify and advocate for resources and support for blind people, and to create our own support systems where needed. If you know of additional resources or have ideas you want to share, please email email@example.com.