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More Adults With Vision Loss Seeking Help Staying Connected During Pandemic

  • Hadley Responding With Added Technology Workshops

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. An age-related eye disease, glaucoma impacts the lives of millions of aging Americans. Since the onset of COVID-19 those with visual impairments, have faced disproportionate vulnerabilities from living in extended isolation. Newly released data has shown that clinical depression within the visually impaired community is being reported at nearly three times the level than the general population.

Hadley, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization – and the nation’s largest provider of free distance and online learning for adults with vision loss – is experiencing a surge in enrollment for workshops, podcasts and discussion groups designed to keep the visually impaired connected to expert help during the pandemic, including new learning modules for those with vision loss on how to use Zoom, as well as how to access special low vision features on their cell phones, smart devices, and computers.

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Individuals with low vision or blindness have relied on their personal networks of family members, friends and others to navigate daily life. However, since COVID-19 many have since lost their support system, leaving them largely alone to try and keep informed and stay in touch with others, both of which are vital for maintaining mental and physical wellness.

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Linda O’Connell of Seguin, Texas is among the growing number of those from across the country with visual impairments who have turned to Hadley to help navigate life during the pandemic. Diagnosed with glaucoma, O’Connell realized that getting back on her computer was important for her to stay informed, in touch and healthy. O’Connell began taking workshops through Hadley to learn how to get online using screen readers and other new technologies.

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“I learned more in one day through Hadley.edu than I have in the last year,” said O’Connell. “It’s gotten me through many rough times these last nine months, I am back to emailing and I am on the internet again, the technology instruction provided by Hadley has been life changing during the pandemic.”

Hadley recently overhauled its digital footprint, Hadley.edu, which takes a dramatically different approach to reaching an audience that is becoming increasingly difficult to reach during the pandemic, primarily older adults facing vision loss. Built on many months of research and development work, the new platform is entirely based on the needs and wants of visually impaired adults to keep them connected, engaged and informed during the pandemic.

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