The COVID-19 situation is continually evolving and ever changing. On this page we provide you with information and links to resources that may be of interest or assistance to you during these times.

BCA’s Weekly Updates

Each week, our CEO Emma Bennison will provide a weekly video update. You can watch them here, or access them on our Facebook Page.

Wednesday 27 May

This week was the final Giving Tuesday of the month – an initiative BCA has been involved in during May, and it’s a good time to reflect on our achievements and what comes next. Emma is thankful to all of you, and recognises how far we have come throughout this crisis. Emma also talks about ways to give your feedback on Happy Hours, raising awareness with the help of The Kindness Pandemic and asks that if you are in a position to support us financially, please give what you can. We completely understand that not everyone is, and there are loads of alternate ways to get involved and Emma encourages you to do so. If you would however like to support BCA via a donation please visit https://www.bca.org.au/donate-2/ and we are very grateful.

Click here to access a transcript of this video in Word format.

Happy Hours!

Happy Hours are BCA’s way of connecting with people who are blind or vision impaired. They are free and easy to join. For a detailed list of dates, times and topics view our latest member update.

Zoom

Zoom is a platform you can use to attend virtual meetings. You can dial in using your phone and a meeting ID, or you can connect via a computer.

A lot of things are starting to happen on Zoom, including our Happy Hours. If you’ve never tried it before, or if you would like a bit more information, check out some of these resources:

  • New Horizon’s aired a Zoom tutorial where host Vaughn Bennison takes us through the various ways you can connect to a meeting. You can listen to the tutorial here.
  • Women with Disability Australia have created a How To guide for accessing Zoom, which is available here.
  • Jonathon Mosen’s audio book “Meet Me Accessibly – A Guide to Zoom Cloud Meetings from a Blindness Perspective” is now available for free. You can access it through the Vision Australia library or from the Mosen Consulting website.

It’s Business as usual at BCA

In terms of day-to-day operations at BCA, with a few exceptions, it’s business as usual. We are in the fortunate position where for several years now the vast majority of our staff have worked remotely, and we expect this to continue. We intend to maintain and even grow our staff team and we look forward to being able to provide you with blindness specific information, advocacy, resources and peer support. Our board and senior staff are planning ahead to ensure, as far as possible, we can continue to operate in the event that our organisation is impacted by the virus. We will keep you updated with any changes as they arise.

You can continue to contact BCA in all of the usual ways:

Changes to Branch Meetings

Despite the fact that the Federal and State Governments are looking at relaxing restrictions, at this time and until further notice our branches will continue to operate virtually.

Our local and special interest branches are offering a number of phone and online meetings. For more information about what local branches are doing please check the event information on our phone system.

Advocating for our needs

BCA continues to advocate for the needs of all people who are blind or vision impaired. Our focus areas in relation to Covid-19 include:

  • Provision of information in accessible formats
  • Clear information on what people who are blind or vision impaired, and those around us, can do to maintain their safety due to an increased need to touch their surroundings and provide/receive sighted guide or tactile interpreting in the case of people who are deafblind.
  • Safe, fair and continued access to groceries and supplies
  • Accessible home-schooling resources both for students who are blind or vision impaired and for parents who are blind or vision impaired and required to support the education of their children.
  • Information on how people who are blind or vision impaired will be supported should they be hospitalised because of coronavirus.

If you have concerns that you would like to raise you can leave feedback on our phone system by calling 1800 033 660 or send us an email at bca@bca.org.au

Other Resources

Australian Federation of Disability Organisations – Webpage on relaxing COVID-19 restrictions

The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) has set up a webpage with information on Scott Morrison’s announcement of the three-stage plan to relaxing Australia’s Coronavirus restrictions.

The webpage includes the video of the announcement (with Auslan interpreters), an image of the three-step plan, the text of the three-step plan, and links to State and Territory websites.

https://www.afdo.org.au/coronavirus-covid-19-information/6287-2/

AFDO will keep the site updated as more information becomes available.

Accessing Pharmaceuticals

Pharmacies around the country can offer free delivery on prescriptions to their customers. The initiative incorporates Australia Post’s contactless delivery in line with current COVID-19 guidelines.

The new delivery option will support vulnerable Australians, including those isolating themselves at home on the advice of a medical practitioner, people over 70 and people with chronic health conditions. The initiative has been developed in association with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (The Guild) and allows vulnerable members of the community to receive medication and other essential supplies (under 500g) through Australia Post’s Express Post network, once a month, and pharmacies can receive the full cost back through government rebate.

For more information on this service, please contact your local pharmacy directly.

Information and referrals for people with disability and their supporters about coronavirus (COVID-19)

Do you have a question about coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Do you want to know what it means for you?

Do you need help because things have changed?

Do you want to know how you can support someone you live with, care for, or support?

Help for you is here. Contact the Disability Information Helpline on 1800 643 787.

It’s available Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm (AEST) and Saturday and Sunday 9am to 7pm (AEST). It’s not available on national public holidays.

Handwashing Advice

A description of current handwashing advice has been created for people who are blind or vision impaired by Audio Described Aotearoa with assistance from the Auckland branch of Blind Citizens New Zealand and individual blind contributors.

Written by Kevin Keys, Nicola Owen and Paul Brown with assistance from lots of blind people who now have lovely clean hands!

There’s been lots of advice recently reminding people to wash their hands properly. The internet is full of videos showing you how to do it. We’ve struggled to find one that is audio described, so we’ve put together these guidelines based on the World Health Organisation (WHO) information and a video made by NZ’s Dr Michelle Dickinson AKA Nanogirl that shows you how to do it. Please note that we are not medical professionals so this information should be used in conjunction with the official advice available from the World Health Organisation and relevant country authorities.

You should wash your hands after going to the toilet, before preparing food and before and after eating, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, after touching animals, before touching your face, and when you return home after being out.

Basically, you want to wash your hands thoroughly using either liquid or bar soap – they both work just as well – for around 20 seconds or as long as it would take to sing Happy Birthday through twice (other songs are available!).

Here are the ten steps to follow:

  • Turn on the tap and wet your hands. Turn off the tap.
  • Apply enough soap to cover your hands.
  • Rub your hands together lengthways palm to palm.
  • Interlace your fingers and rub your palms together from side to side.
  • Place your right palm on the back of your left hand, interlacing your fingers and rub your hands up and down against each other lengthways. Repeat with your left palm on the back of your right hand.
  • To clean your fingertips and nails: point your elbows out to the sides. Hold your left hand in front of you across your body with the palm facing up. Place your right hand palm down on top of your left in the opposite direction. With palms together, slide your hands slowly apart until the tips of your fingers touch the bottom finger joints on the other hand. Roll your fingers in together to make opposite facing interlocking fists, knuckles fitting snugly into the palm of the other hand. Rub the tips and nails of your fingers firmly into the palm and fingers of the other hand.
  • Clasp your left thumb in your right fist and rotate to clean the thumb including the nail. Repeat with the other thumb.
  • Clasp your left wrist in your right hand and rotate to wash the whole wrist. Repeat with the other wrist.
  • Turn the tap back on and rub your hands together firmly under the running water. The friction helps to remove oils and therefore viruses and bacteria.
  • Shake off excess water and dry your hands on a clean single use towel using firm lengthwise towel strokes. Use the towel to turn off the tap.

We hope that you will share this information freely with your family and friends and welcome your feedback. Email: audiodescribedaotearoa@gmail.com

Link to World Health Organisation information on Covid-19: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

Link to Nanogirl video on Youtube (handwashing at 2:30): https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=100&v=2eqhw6yZk-c&feature=emb_logo

Access to Groceries

On April 22nd, both Coles and Woolworths released a statement advising that their online shopping for both delivery and click and collect is back up and running – for everyone! Coles will still continue to operate their Coles Online Priority Service for those who are eligible. You can find out more Here. Woolworths will offer contactless delivery where the items will be left at your doorstep in reusable bags, community pick up and click and collect. For more information about Woolworths, visit this page.

Information for dog guide handlers using taxis and ride share services

Guide Dogs Australia has issued an update which all dog guide handlers should make themselves familiar with.

Epidemic / Pandemic Policy

View BCA’s Epidemic / Pandemic Policy here.

Mental Health and Wellbeing during the COVID-19 outbreak

On Friday 18th April we held our regular Happy Hour with BCA staff Jane Britt, Policy Officer and Naomi Barber, Project Officer, co-facilitating a session on Maintaining Wellbeing. About 12 participants joined us for a thought provoking and enjoyable session.

Some of the tips we explored for maintaining wellbeing from Black Dog Institute included:

  • Minimise unhelpful media or information.
  • What behaviours increase your anxiety? Reduce them. Pay attention to what you do when you’re feeling more anxious.
  • Don’t give negative thoughts too much power. What else can you do instead to shift your focus?
  • Sleep, exercise and eating well will aid wellbeing.
  • Maintain a routine.
  • Stay connected with others by email, video chat, phone calls.
  • Avoid drugs or alcohol.

For more tips, go to: https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/news/news-detail/2020/03/20/10-tips-for-managing-anxiety-during-covid-19

There are also some great resources available to help members in this time if you’re finding the effects of the pandemic to be stressful:

  • Beyond Blue – includes resources on how to talk to children about COVID-19, if you have COVID-19, if you are supporting others, and how to handle job loss. Beyond Blue Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service can be contacted on 1800 512 348.
  • Black Dog Institute – includes resources for preparing your own self-care plan and weekly mental health check-in sheets
  • Government advice
  • Lifeline has released some important resources for dealing with mental health during this time. They can also be contacted on 13 11 14.