Nov 13, 2020
Every day we hear of how the coronavirus has impacted people all over the world, but rarely have we heard specific reports about its effect on blind and visually impaired individuals.
In this 22nd episode in our series, Around the World with COVID-19 from a Blindness Perspective, we hear from Sammie Shipman in California, who fills in those details for us.
Sammie Shipman is a college student living in the San Francisco bay area in northern California, in the US. Sammie shares her routine as a student living and active lifestyle that ranges from her daily 3-hour commute to school, to her walks around the local marina with her guide dog, fighting the smoke-filled air resulting from the wildfires which are very prevalent in the area. She also enjoys her social outings with friends and going to church which recently reopened with all necessary pandemic precautions, masks, social distancing, etc.
Sammie was in the midst of her school semester when the Corona virus arrived, but finished her courses and enjoyed the summer off. She has since returned to her fall term and is taking a heavy course load.
She enjoys singing and is taking two difficult voice classes this term at school. She has also written and performed songs, one of which is featured in this episode. You can hear an excerpt at the 4:25 mark in this recording.
Sammie used to teach assistive tech through a local company, and points out that a valuable skill as a college student is to “know your tech”, particularly during this pandemic where most schooling is done remotely and virtually, online. She is taking only remote classes this term, using Zoom and an online learning software called Canvas. This allows her to forgo her previous lengthy commute, freeing up time for such as brushing up her cooking skills.
She acknowledges that lock downs are stressful, especially for active people like her, and has experienced periods of situational depression after a few days of staying at home. Her music helps combat this as does writing. Sammie started journaling, which offers many attractions which help pass the time when she’s not busy with her many other activities.
As several other guests on our Covid-19 series have observed, Sammie also explains that wearing a mask can not only be hot and uncomfortable, but it can also hinder our navigation process as cane or dog users because it interferes with the sound of our feedback, hampering our echo-location skills.
One other unexpected benefit of not having to travel to school daily is the fact that Sammie has set aside a bedroom in her house as a private office. This has provided a refreshing separation of her personal and school life, a change which has made lock down more palatable.
Be sure to set aside 20 minutes or so of your busy day to listen to this articulate and fascinating guest as she walks us through the various aspects of life that have been affected by Corona. It will be time well spent!
As usual, Blind Abilities has inserted real news stories to enhance the report and paint a tine-line for you to better understand the sequence of the COVID-19 progression.
special thanks go out to Chee Chau, for his beautiful song and titled wayfarer.
Be sure to tune in to more informative episodes to hear how your BVI counterparts around the world are coping with and adapting to cOVID-19.
If you reside in Minnesota, and you would like to know more about Transition Services from State Services contact Transition Coordinator Sheila Koenig by email or contact her via phone at 651-539-2361.
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