‘More vulnerable:’ Blind Canadians talk hardships of physical distancing amid coronavirus

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The physical distancing rules put in place across Canadian society are supposed to shield everyone from the ravages of COVID-19, but Nick D’Ambrosio doesn’t feel protected.

Maintaining a two-metre distance from members of the public is a challenge for the 49-year-old, who has lost most of his eyesight and now travels with a white cane.

Neither that mobility aid nor his remaining vision are up to the task of keeping him at a safe distance from others, either in the Montreal-area drug store where he’s stocked shelves for 22 years or while running essential errands further afield.

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Other potentially protective measures — such as the widespread distribution of hand sanitizer dispensers or the installation of floor markers intended to manage crowds in public spaces — also leave him and other Canadians living with vision loss on the margins, D’Ambrosio said. Sometimes the only way to locate the new additions involves soliciting sighted assistance from strangers — thereby further increasing exposure to the novel coronavirus.

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D’Ambrosio said he’s fortunate to have supportive colleagues and loved ones who help mitigate his personal risk, but the additional barriers add another dimension of anxiety for blind Canadians navigating an already troubling time.

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