Is COVID-19 Making it Harder for You to Recognize Faces?

Tomorrow will be the end of week 4 that I have been in lockdown due to the pandemic. It has been - shall we say? - interesting. A couple of things have come up at the intersection of legally blind and maintain your distance.

Facial recognition in the time of social distancing

I was curious to know what people are doing about face recognition in this age of social distancing. I had an interesting experience a few days ago. I was walking Psycho Dog and Sister of Psycho Dog when we were approached by a woman coming the opposite direction. Since Psycho Dog - “christened” Maggie - came to that moniker honestly, I always pull off into the field and let the other person pass. This woman wanted to chat. From my vantage point, I had no idea who this woman was.

Unable to take a closer look

I tried the usual “I am sorry, but I am legally blind. Who are you, please?” No logical response. She just kept chatting.

Normally, in my visually impaired life before COVID-19, I would quickly run up and take a closer look. Psycho Dog could be controlled for a few seconds. But now what should I do?

Who was I talking to?

After a few minutes, my repeated statement “I am legally blind” must have been received. She said “Oh, yes. My daughter said that about you. You’re blind and I’m deaf.” She then giggled and resumed her walk.

Great. I stood there looking after her to see if I could figure out who in Hades she was. She turned into a house a little bit up the road and, yes, I do know her daughter. Mystery solved.

Just wondering if anyone else is finding social distancing a challenge to recognizing people and what you have been doing about it.

Onto the next topic

However, knowing that the topic was not going to be enough for a page, I had another one ready to go. Are you ready? Colored paper.

Visually impaired paper?

Huh? Colored paper. Yeah, I know. Social distancing and colored paper don’t go together but have you ever bought “visually impaired” paper? It is neon. Bright yellow, green, and pink. Why so colorful? And, for that matter, why did my visual habilitation person (Hi, Shelly!) give me colored, acetate overlays to play with and pick the one I liked the best? Excellent question and I may have found some excellent answers.

Color and contrast for printed materials

Our enlightened - and enlightening - British cousins at the Royal National Institute for the Blind - of the Blind? Whatever, the RNIB - published this nice article all about how to choose color and contrast for printed materials that benefit people with sight problems. I don’t know about you, but I am all for things that might benefit people with sight problems! This article was updated in 2015 so the information is fairly recent.

Sound intriguing? Good.

Coming soon!

So, that is my preview of the coming attractions. I just about filled up my 500 words. I knew my question about vision, issues, facial recognition and social distance was not going to get to 500 words but I am still curious. How are you handling the dilemma?

And next time, I promise colored paper!

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