COVID-19 Effect on Everyday Mobility of Different Demographic Groups of People with Blindness and Visual Impairment
Main Article Content
Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic imposed some challenges on the mobility of people with blindness and visual impairment (BVI). Compliance with social distance epidemiological guidelines proved to be especially troublesome for those with BVI.
Objective: The goal of this research was to determine the differences between specific demographic groups of people with BVI before and during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in everyday mobility, to identify the groups most affected.
Methods: Forty-five people with BVI members of the Croatian Blind Union completed the questionnaire describing their pre-pandemic and lockdown independent everyday mobility activity frequencies on a 5-point Likert scale along with demographic questions in May 2020. Wilcoxon signed ranks test and paired samples t-test were used to test differences before and during the pandemic lockdown on average scale results for demographic groups.
Results: A decline in independent everyday mobility between before and during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown was shown for the total sample of people with BVI. When considering demographic groups both those with blindness and low vision, non-married and married, females, participants living in apartments, employed and unemployed participants, and participants living in a household with two members showed a statistically significant decline in independence during the pandemic. Males, retired participants, and participants older than 40, living alone in a house did not show a statistically significant decline.
Conclusion: The decline in mobility functioning implies possible long-term effects of the pandemic lockdown on specific groups of people with BVI and additional support needed after the lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic.