The effect of the global pandemic
The shift to remote life has given some people with disabilities the opportunity to engage more comfortably with work, healthcare, socializing, and culture and social institutions. But COVID-19 has created a set of distinct and profound challenges for people with disabilities, many of whom are more physically isolated and at-risk than ever before.
Technology can help create learning opportunities, allow for remote work and create connections with loved ones. For example, many people who are Deaf or hard of hearing may rely on lipreading to follow conversations, but facemasks make that virtually impossible. This is evident as searches for clear face mask are at all time highs. With Live Transcribe, an Android app that transcribes conversations in real time, people are able to follow conversations and get the information they need even while wearing masks.
As more learning takes place online, technology is helping make content more accessible. Students and educators around the world who are Deaf or hard of hearing have navigated the transition to distance learning with tools like automatic captions in Google Meet and Google Slides. For people who are blind or low vision, using Talkback braille keyboard, a new keyboard integrated directly into Android, means they can quickly communicate using braille—whether it’s in an email, a text message, or on social media—without additional hardware.
To help provide information for people with disabilities during this time, we created a set of Resources for Vulnerable Communities on our COVID-19 resource hub and accessibility resources for education on Teach from Anywhere. These sites provide expert guidance and support for groups facing higher risks to their safety and wellbeing, including resources for disability and neurodiverse communities, students with disabilities, domestic and sexual violence survivors, and people in recovery.