The National Federation of the Blind and its Illinois affiliate knows that the COVID-19 crisis is presenting some changes in our lives, but there are unique challenges to blind people. The health and safety of our members, colleagues and friends is a top priority. We in the NFB are monitoring the COVID-19 emergency. The below updated list is simply some resources that may be helpful to you during this time of the Covid-19 crisis and social distancing. Please feel free to explore and submit other helpful resources. If you need any assistance please reach out to me, Denise Avant, President, National Federation of the Blind of Illinois at 773-991-8050 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please feel free to share this list with others who do not have e-mail. Also please direct NFB Newsline subscribers to the Illinois information and the breaking news sections for useful information on COVID-19.
For general information about COVID-19:
- go to Center for Disease Control – CDC.gov. Or call the CDC 1-800-232-4636 option 4
- World Health Organization – www.who.int
OTHER RESOURCES FOR FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
FEDERAL NONDISCRIMINATION POLICY FOR COVID-19 MEDICAL TREATMENT
National Federation of the Blind Resources:
Here you can find national resources about COVID-19, advocacy and education issues related to blindness.
Parents of blind children and blind students may wish to note in particular the blog post by Stephanie Flynt, “Don’t Be a Barrier, Be Accessible Now”. This post deals with the right of blind students to receive accessible online educational materials for schools shifting to remote online learning
All subscribers, for the most up to the minute information about COVID-19, you can read national and local newspapers.
If you wish to become a subscriber, the channel administrator is David Meyer, (708-6067091. All subscribers can access NFB Newsline by phone, an app on your iOS device, Amazon Echo line of products, the Victor Reader Stream or nfbnewslineonline.org.
You can locate specific information about COVID-19 under the breaking news section. For phone users, once you have dialed in, have been logged in, press option 5, then 1 or 2 if you wish to reach data provided by Johns Hopkins University.
Note: The National Federation of the Blind office in Baltimore is closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Therefore, the Independence Market is closed. However, we ARE shipping free white canes. Shipments will go out once a week. So please order your cane using the order form on the nfb.org website or call 410-659-9314. You can leave your contact information, and your order will be processed as soon as possible.
National Federation of the Blind Convention:
We are having a virtual 80th national convention from July 14-19. The convention registration is free of charge and can be found on the NFB website at www.nfb.org.
General Information In Illinois:
Illinois Department of Public Health
IDPH Hotline: 1-800-889-3931
ILLINOIS NONDISCRIMINATION POLICY IN COVID-19 MEDICAL TREATMENT
Illinois Bureau of Blind Services
If you need assistance with blindness rehabilitation services, you may call the Division of Rehabilitation Services at (877) 581-3690.
While BBS offices as well as ICRE-Wood are closed, all staff are still available to assist you with your case. You can contact them electronically.
All public transit systems are deemed essential and should be running in your area. But please call your local transportation authority to check for scheduling.
CTA riders are now boarding and exiting at the rear of the bus. For those with mobility devices or needing to use a ramp, you can signal to the driver that you need to board and exit at the front of the bus. Under the bus crowding management initiative, CTA operators now have the authority to temporarily run as “drop-off only” and bypass certain bus stops if their bus is becoming crowded. Operators will use the guideline of 15 or more passengers on a standard 40-foot bus, 22 or more passengers on a 60-foot articulated bus.
Paratransit is available in your area for transporting you to essential activities, grocery shopping, pharmacy trips and doctor visits.
All PACE rides are free through April 30. However, please be advised that in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, PACE is declining to provide door-to-door assistance to those needing assistance unless traveling with a PCA. If you are blind and need to make a trip using Paratransit, you should request that the carrier take your order and call you upon arrival, that the driver identify you by name and give you verbal directions to the vehicle. MOPD and Equip for equality has been notified about PACE’s policy.
If you use Paratransit in the city of Chicago, and have the TAP (Taxi Access) Card, you will not be charged for your rides. You simply swipe your card at the end of your trip. No money will be taken from your card.
Bus rides are free
Uber and Lyft are running but you may experience some delay in pickup
Uber eats is offering 0 delivery fee, but there are other normal service fees. Door Dash is doing the same. Grubhub is offering $10 off any order over $30 at selected restaurants if you order between 5 pm and 9 pm
Grocery Stores offering special hours for Seniors/vulnerable guests:
Note: Please call your local store as your store may not be listed hear or the listed stores may change their hours.
One hour before stores open:
- Walgreens: Tuesdays
- Walmart: Tuesdays
Between 8 am and 9 am:
- Costco: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays
First Hour that the store is open:
- Target: Wednesdays
- Instacart: instacart.com
- Amazon Fresh: Amazon.com
- Postmates is delivering Walgreens essential items and groceries
You can also access Instacart, Amazon Fresh, and Postmates through apps on your smartphone, which are accessible with Voiceover in iOS and Talkback under Android.
Mariano’s (Free grocery delivery for orders over $35, but you must be using the Mariano’s app)
please note that several of our members have volunteered to help people use apps on the iOS platform to order groceries. If you need such assistance, please call Michal Nowicki at 847-361-9403 or email him at email@example.com, and he will put you in touch with someone to help you.
Information for Food Banks:
Greater Chicago Food Depository
Northern Illinois Food Bank
Central and Southern Illinois Food Bank
Eastern Illinois Food Bank
Need Help Preparing Meals
Directions for me website:
Great resource for directions on most store bought packaging, includes frozen foods, cans, etc.
Prairie Grass Cooking Hotline (Available from 2-4 pm): 847-920-8437
This hotline will help people with cooking ideas and using ingredients to prepare meals.
Blindness Apps On both Android and iOS:
- Aira is still fully operational, and is offering its service free of charge for students engaged in distance learning.
- BE My Eyes is also operational.
- Vispero is offering a free JAWS, ZoomText or Fusion home license to all households ending on June 30. Go to Freedomscientific.com.
Equip for Equality has developed a fact sheet to address common workplace issues for people with disabilities in the context of COVID-19. The fact sheet can be accessed at: www.equipforequality.org/covid-work.
Equip for Equality’s Employment Rights Helpline is still open for business. To access the Helpline, call toll-free: 1-844-RIGHTS-9 (or 1-844-744-4879) and a trained attorney will respond to the call. You can also email the Helpline at firstname.lastname@example.org. All Helpline resources can be found at www.equipforequality.org/issues/discrimination-ada-rights/employment/employment-rights-helpline/helpline-resources.
Twelve Step Program Help and Support
If you are part of any programs for alcohol and drug dependency, you will still be able to continue meetings. For online or phone meetings, visit www.chicagoaa.org or dial 312-346-1475.
Mental Health Intervention:
- PATH (Providing Access to Help)
Web address: www.pathcrisis.org
They offer services for home insecurity. suicide, mental health etc.
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline
The Illinois Department of Human Services’ Mental Health Division has launched a free-of-charge emotional support text line, Call4Calm, for Illinois residents experiencing stress and mental health issues related to COVID-19. Individuals who would like to speak with a mental health professional can text “TALK” to 5-5-2-0-2-0, or for Spanish, “HABLAR” to the same number: 5-5-2-0-2-0. Call4Calm is free to use, and individuals will remain anonymous. Once a resident sends a text to the hotline, within 24 hours they will receive a call from a counselor employed by a local community mental health center to provide support. Individuals can also text 5-5-2-0-2-0, with key words such as “unemployment” or “food” or “shelter” and will receive information on how TO navigate and access supports and services.
ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE:
IDHS has created a plan to increase the capacity of its current statewide network of services and to streamline access to emergency shelter. The role of the Domestic Violence Helpline is being expanded in order to create a one stop access point for shelter needs. Victims may directly call the Helpline at 1-877-TO END DV (1-877-863-6338 voice or 1-877-863-6339 TTY) and be connected to shelter through existing local domestic violence shelters or they will be connected to emergency shelter through available hotels and motels. Transportation assistance is being offered as well.