Rebecca Alexander volunteered after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo asked for therapists to counsel first responders during the Covid-19 crisis, the New Yorker magazine reports.
She listened as doctors and nurses poured out their trauma over the phone, including awful stories in which they had to decide who would live and who would not.
What they didn’t know is that Rebecca is legally deaf and blind.
“When you don’t have vision or hearing or both, you rely heavily on other senses,” she told the New Yorker. “For us, that other sense is touch.” But unfortunately, touch is now the most prevalent way that Covid-19 is spread.
Deaf-blind people communicate using tactile sign language, which is a system of pressing words with the fingers into another person’s palm. It’s impossible to do this with social distancing.
“My worry is that the pandemic planning has completely missed this community,” Roberta Cordano, the president of Gallaudet University, in Washington, D.C., told the New Yorker. ” … deaf-blind people rely on fixed physical proximity to communicate with the world around them.”