How the COVID-19 Pandemic Will Change the World for the Differently Abled
Welcome to our new reality. As we continue our social distancing in a world brought to a halt by COVID-19, we must also look ahead. What will life be like afterwards? There is much discussion on elements of our current lifestyle that will carry on once the pandemic has past. This includes more working from home, increased social assistance for those in need, and greater steps taken to ensure safe socialization. This reframing of our day-to-day lives can great help differently abled individuals. The changes that will happen now and in the near future could have profound impacts on the lives of people who previously faced challenges to which we did not pay nearly enough attention.
Many people have continued to work and hold meetings through teleconferencing during the pandemic. This allows employees to still complete much of the same tasks but from the comfort of their home or any location away from the office. Individuals with mobility limitations greatly benefit from opening up work opportunities. Those with sight issues, such as photosensitivity or the need for screen magnification, can rely on their ideal home setup for work. Advances in technology can be fully utilized and implemented wherever the people who need them will be located. In addition, businesses will greatly benefit from a much larger pool of workers they can rely on.
The pandemic will also bring about major changes for those with invisible disabilities. Working from home offers much more flexibility in taking breaks that can alleviate stress for those coping with depression or other mental health issues. Those living with anxiety can take comfort in meetings done via teleconference without video, as well as not having to cope with the social dynamics of an office. Outside of work, people are rediscovering the joys and comfort of eschewing a busy schedule and spending more time at home. This benefits those with social anxiety and others who struggle with the hectic nature of the modern world.
COVID-19 could very well be an accelerator of the future of work. Artificial intelligence and automation have been poised to completely revolutionize how we define careers and how we live out our day-to-day lives. Companies are now embracing modern technology more than ever. The government programs being implemented to help the current situation, such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, are paving the way for ideas such as Universal Basic Income. All of this will lead to more opportunities for those with physical and mental disabilities. Freed from the trappings of a traditional 9-to-5 job, people will be able to work how and when they want. This allows us to socialize and explore hobbies at our own pace as well. The differently abled will be in a far more advantageous position.
Those with physical and mental disabilities face many hurdles. The COVID-19 pandemic is turning the world on its head and paving the way for drastic change. What does this mean for the differently abled? It could lead to more work from home opportunities, more robust government programs, and a change from lifestyles that neglected those with disabilities. Looking at the potential positive impacts of the pandemic can not only help us stay optimistic, but also strive towards making that better world a reality.
Kaufman, Jonathan. “Mindset Matters: Invisible Disabilities And The Future Of Work In The Era Of COVID-19.” Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jonathankaufman/2020/03/23/mindset-matters-invisible-disabilities-and-the-future-of-work-in-the-era-of-covid-19/#3a18b5219e45
Lestoc, Costea. “COVID-19 Is Preparing Workplaces For A More Accessible Future.” Technology Market Corporation. https://www.tmcnet.com/topics/articles/2020/04/02/444995-covid-19-preparing-workplaces-a-more-accessible-future.htm
Pasqua, Marco. “How COVID-19 is Changing Remote Work for People with Disabilities.” Rick Hansen Foundation. https://www.rickhansen.com/news-stories/blog/how-covid-19-changing-remote-work-people-disabilities