Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

The Impact of COVID-19 as Students Returned to In-Person Learning

The third “Access and Engagement Report,” recently released by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), “examines the continued negative impact of systemic and COVID-19 specific issues on the education of students who are blind or have low vision.” This latest study focuses on three issues emerging from earlier reports as students returned to in-person learning: access to technology, impacts on educational progress, and the pandemic’s social and emotional impacts on children who are blind or have low vision as well as their families and educators. Among the key findings are indications that digital learning platforms used were not fully accessible or usable; difficulties with reliable internet access; and loss of learning, particularly for subjects like Orientation and Mobility (O&M), and decreased opportunities for work experience or building skills in the community. Social-emotional challenges described by parents include the fear of COVID or children choosing not to socialize. The report includes recommendations as well, such as increased communication between school staff and families, “ensuring full accessibility of all software and hardware learning tools,” and legislative action. For additional details about the study and how it was conducted, visit the CISION AFB press release entitled American Foundation for the Blind Announces Third Access and Engagement Report, Observing Impact of COVID-19 as Students with Visual Impairments Returned to In-Person Education. To read the full report, visit the AFB webpage on Access and Engagement III: Reflecting on the Educational Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic.