Sunday, April 26, 2020

What If the World Changed With Us?: Innovation and Accessibility For All

This post on Facebook caught my eye last night, reminding me of my first trip outside of my home after the governor of my state required all citizens to wear a mask when out in public around others at grocery stores and pharmacies. I had to decide between my safety, or my hearing aids. If I wore both, the bands would rub up against my hearing aids, obscuring and blocking sound. I decided the hearing aids would stay at home. I could make it without them. I'd bob and weave my way through the store. After all, I had lived for quite a few years with moderate hearing loss in both ears. Little did I know it was going to be a tough outing.  

I got to the store, bobbing and weaving the whole time, working my way through the produce, meats, and dairy putting my vicious peripheral vision to the test. People came up behind me a couple times, but it was manageable. Now I found myself at the deli. I had to yell as loud as I could to verbalize my deli order to the counter man. The fabric blocked my lips, suppressed the sound coming from my throat and mouth. I prayed, as my heart raced, that he understood my order. Then, turning away, I sighed with some relief convinced that the hard part of this outing was over. At checkout, my troubles began, the woman was saying something. I communicated that I could not hear. Yelling, "I can't hear." I had no idea what the woman bagging my groceries said to me. My heart raced, my armpits oozed under my hoodie, and the rest I can't remember. It wasn't until I got to the car that I realized she was scolding me for bringing my own bags into the store. I was ashamed, and angry. I drove home, speeding, angry, Metallica and Iron Maiden rattling the doors and chassis of the SUV. I was livid. How could our country put us in the position? Why is everything so damn hard for me? I will not be denied! No!

Then I got home, cried, sanitized my groceries, and went for run. After that run I knew I needed a different mask. A mask that tied onto my head, and was not anchored by my ears. I did some research found a friend that is able to sew. I found another way, because I always do, but why was it always on me to find that way, to pave the way to innovation?

Wouldn't it be nice if the world changed with me.

Masks are just one, small example of how our lives have to change in order for us to move forward into life post COVID-19, but pre-vaccine. Adapt and pivot. The world needs to be like a good point guard in basketball, plant its foot, and then take a series of brave, bold steps to find the one that will give us a clear shot to the basket, or a hand up with an assist from a nearby player. It is imperative that this happens now before we head back into the world post stay-at-home orders. And while no one is better equipped for it than families and individuals hit with medical challenges, adapting and pivoting has to be the mindset for all. The attitude of grit, perseverance, and innovation needs to be adopted by the rest of the world. Life finds a way, they say. Let's find it together.

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