How to Help Those With Disabilities Combat Isolation
As we work to combat COVID-19 many people are working from home and social distancing themselves from others. This may cause isolation and loneliness. During this time of uncertainty it’s important to keep in mind the groups of people who are already at risk of feeling isolated, including people with disabilities. As we all adjust to this new way of life for the time being, we encourage you to reach out to those in the disability community.
Here are some different ways to use technology to stay connected with individuals with disabilities:
One of the best things to do during this time is still have face-to-face interactions with someone. Luckily, there are many options to video chat with someone. In a video chat you can still see the other person’s facial cues, body language, and other nonverbal forms of communication that can be very important to bonding. You can use a video chat to do an activity you would normally do together, like having dinner or watching a television show together.
If you know someone with a disability on social media, try to reach out to them with an act of kindness. This can be sending them a direct message or emailing them with a genuine compliment or expression of gratitude. Let them know you’re thinking of them during this difficult time. It’s personal and longer-lasting than just liking something they posted on social media. We all need a little extra kindness as we manage our stress right now.
For those people with disabilities who are used to seeing their providers every week, there are options to still do these check-ins online. Telehealth is the distribution of health-related serviced and information via electronic information and telecommunication technologies. It allows long-distance patient and clinician contact, care, advice, reminders, education, intervention, monitoring, and remote admissions. This can be a great way for someone with a disability to keep part of their regular routine.
Use an App
There are several different apps you can download to connect with others. They can optimize our online interactions with friends and loved ones. Some of these apps include Ikaria, Cocoon, Monaru, and Squad. These apps are helpful for those who do well with structure, including individuals with a disability. There are also apps that offer conversation prompts to get two people talking, like TableTopics. These tools are a great way to not only connect with people, but a way to make new friends!