Physical distancing 'impossible' for the deafblind amid COVID

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Imagine being unable to see or hear throughout all of this the one sense you truly rely on that sense of touch it's also been taken away from you a lot of ways there are thousands of Americans brought home the last month and a half has seriously challenged their ability to thrive A. B. C.'s Devin Dwyer reports on deaf blind Americans grappling with isolation and social distancing during the pandemic most of the sights and sounds of the inescapable the number of cases of coronavirus spiking here in the U. S. this is a terrible experience but for some Americans the scope of this outbreak has been uniquely difficult to face my name is Philip was murder I am deaf blind Philip Wismer student a gala that university Washington DC is one of an estimated forty thousand Americans facing cope with nineteen while unable to clearly see or hear I have not gone off campus since March eighteenth I only come out of my dorm to get food get the mail and that's about it it sounds lonely yeah it is sometimes I I do feel wrongly my other friends that are completely blind feeling very very isolated deaf blind Americans survive by touch hand over hand to communicate fingers on braille signs for mobility hugs and handshakes to feel connected experts say deaf blindness is a spectrum not everyone experiences complete darkness and total silence but touch is critical now comes with significant health risks in many guides are fearful of being touched and touching back twenty eight year old Tyler Samuel of Nashville Tennessee says she's fighting that loneliness relying on our partner for help with daily tasks the genetic condition since birth is degraded her hearing and sight line you're just really worried that I wouldn't wouldn't find an independent and when you do find it you don't want to lose it and so for it to be kind of chipped away is it kind of lowers your self esteem Samuel still walks to work every day by herself this is mine now can empty walk home pediatric surgery coordinator at Vanderbilt University hospital she's a freelance opera singer with dreams of going big the pandemic has prompted some soul searching I lost a friend I go to pick her up and she was very young and thirty early thirties and it prompted me to go head to get my mastectomy will together that's something that I want it like my wishes to me now a trip to the hospital is what many deaf blind Americans told ABC news they fear most there's an assumption in a lot of medical community is that it's better to speak Jack then disable Hoppin girl is a leading advocate for the community I would be terrified I would not get communication a sense that I would not get the care I need to get the virus and go to the hospital she says it's a fight for equality the daughter of an Eritrean refugee Irma is the first deaf blind woman to graduate from Harvard law school in twenty fifteen president Obama recognized her as a champion of change when I'm asking questions today hop and you're actually feeling my questions with your fingers please ask me questions I with her special braille keyboard guide dog Milo by your side Girma an informal network of deaf blind advocates are determined not to be forgotten it's certainly not and Saxena hobby disability and should deal with death Linus I think makes people very you know uncomfortable generally Rebecca Alexander of New York City wants the world to know that deaf blind professionals can pitch in to she's volunteering her services as a counselor to hospital workers on the front lines just knowing that even someone like me who the community I think at large if they knew how limited my vision and my hearing was they might not consider via someone they would reach out to for help and it does feel good to be able to provide that Ashley Benton who coordinates services for the deaf blind in North Carolina says police in rural areas are checking on residents who don't have technology to communicate they contacted us which was beautiful so we were able to work with the officers who have the appropriate PP to go in and check on the step one consumer to make sure they were safe it's so important because we're always together near Seattle deaf blind sisters Nancy and Debbie summer sticking together through it all but we can't all thank goodness we have computers we can talk with each other yeah I think the persistence to stay connected and to contribute to the recovery the deaf blind community raising its voice in its own way what do you like a missing these days I love queen I like the end all of what you mean rap city and like so many dreaming of that big escape after cove it what I would like to do after this is all over with it's taking

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