Managing Social Distancing with a Visual Impairment

General Low Vision News
April 16, 2020

You asked. We answered.

Every week we host a virtual coffee chat for everyone living with low vision. On April 15th, Katie Mahoney of We Are Young and Kayla Douglas, a volunteer with CNIB Halifax, joined to address some of the common concerns you shared for managing social distancing with a visual impairment. Our community shares  how they have been managing Activities of Daily Living.

Listen to the chat here or read below for some great takeaways.

How do I shop while when the recommendation is one person per household, I can’t see social distancing markers and it’s hard to tell how far 6 feet is?

Ask for Clerk Assistance 

“A lot of stores offer clerk assistance where they walk through the store and pick up the items for you. And/or to supply the clerk the list and have them get those items for you. It varies store to store but it doesn’t hurt to ask.” Rosa 

Consider Grocery delivery apps

Managing social distancing with a visual impairment can be made a little easier with grocery and food delivery apps. Here are a few that came up in our discussion:

Look for special operational hours

“From 7 – 8 am in the morning, my local grocery store is opening it up for seniors and people with disabilities.” – Joina

“I tend to go late to the grocery stores. I go right before closing. Nobody wants to go at that time.” Youval

“I hear going right after the seniors go in the morning, that’s a good time too.” – Katie 

Reach out to your local communities

“Our local church group has helped out quite a bit. They help many people who have offered to take my wife and I out the store, transportation, delivered food to our front door. They’ve been a great blessing.” Mark 

“A lot of neighbours in my neighbourhood are offering to go out and shop for me if I can’t get to the store. Reach out to your facebook groups or local communities.” – Rosa

“If you live with family you are still allowed to have a sighted guide (at the grocery stores).” – Rosa 

My normal means of transportation aren’t available. Buses are now asking for people to board the rear. How do I get around?

Driving Services

“MedExpress, if you have to go to the doctor or somewhere in the community, you can get a ride with them.” – Joina

“In my area we can still use the bus or Uber. For Uber I use hand sanitizer and limit touching anything not necessary.” – Rosa 

Tips for taking the bus

“For the bus, I would ask if it is possible to use the front door (despite social distancing). If you have your cane to identify as visually impaired, the driver will know you need assistance. Also the drivers should be able to give verbal direction to an open seat.” – Rosa 


“I’ve been walking to the grocery store and taking a cab home (to limit exposure).” – Denise

How do I find my way around in a safe way when I usually use touch to do so?

“Unfortunately touching things like stair rails is necessary to be safe. I would just suggest hand sanitizer, washing hands and avoid touching your face until you can do so.” – Rosa 

“One amazing resource is a company/community, called Be My Eyes. If you are not familiar with them, they give assistance to people with low vision loss via video.” – Jeanette

“Utilizing your cane and feeling for the person in front of you when standing in line etc would be the best practice in this type of situation. That should give you the amount of space you would need.” – Rosa

Are there other topics you would like to cover? Join our chats or visit our eSight Together page.