Disabled People and COVID-19 - Episode 1: Food and Shopping

03 December 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected all New Zealanders, but it hasn’t impacted everyone equally.  Our disabled and Māori communities have borne the brunt of this pandemic, experiencing major challenges to accessing essential services, and significant struggles during the nationwide lockdowns. However, disabled people have also pulled together to ensure our communities are kept safe, and our people have what they need to get by. 

This accessible six part video series showcases the stories of disabled community members across Aotearoa, exploring their experiences of the pandemic during Alert Levels 3 and 4. From making sure they could get kai for their whānau to getting essential help to those who need it most - we hear from disabled kiwis in their own words so that we can ensure a more accessible future for our whole team of 5 million.

This series is brought to you by the DPO Coalition, with funding from the Office for Disability Issues, and proudly produced by Activate Agency. All videos contain NZSL, captions in English and te reo Māori, and Audio Description. Transcripts are available in English, and te reo Māori, and episode summaries are available in plain English.

Episode 1: Food and Shopping

For many New Zealanders, when Covid-19 Alert Level 3 was announced, food shopping was a top priority. However, our disabled community discovered that safe and accessible shopping provided a number of challenges during the pandemic. In person shopping became a challenge for many disabled people in Aotearoa - for some, online shopping was a necessary and important solution, but for others, it was a reminder that even essential services could be completely inaccessible.

Play the first episode below for Prudence Walker and Jonathan Godfrey’s stories about food and shopping during Alert Levels 3 and 4 this year.

This video contains the following accessibility features: NZSL, Captions in English & te reo Māori; Audio Description.

The DPO Coalition acknowledges the contribution of all disability sector organisations to make sure that the wellbeing of, informational needs, and support for disabled people was monitored and improved upon throughout the impact of COVID-19.

Watch episode 1 here

Episode Summary:

This video is about food and shopping for disabled people during Covid-19 Alert Levels 3 & 4. It has New Zealand Sign Language, English captions, te reo Māori captions, and Audio Description. (Other accessibility links are listed below.)

The video starts with Prudence Walker introducing herself. She is a disabled woman and the Chief Executive of Disabled Persons Assembly New Zealand. 

During the Covid-19 lockdown Prudence could not leave her apartment to go food shopping. Prudence had to order food online but this was difficult because the supermarket would not tell her if they could deliver to her upstairs apartment. Prudence uses a mobility scooter and she could not leave her apartment. This meant that she could not collect her groceries from downstairs.

When Prudence did order food, the delivery person refused to bring her groceries upstairs to her apartment door. After Prudence explained her situation, the delivery person eventually agreed to bring her order upstairs. But when he brought the groceries he was very aggressive and made Prudence feel unsafe and he made her feel bad about her disability.

Prudence just wants to receive her food in a safe and accessible way. She believes that supermarkets should provide information about the accessibility of their services so that disabled people can have the right information to make their shopping choices.

After Prudence’s story, Jonathan Godfery introduces himself. He is a proudly blind man, statistics lecturer, and the National President of Blind Citizens New Zealand. Jonathan is usually the shopper for his family and he is very good at it. Before Covid-19 Jonathan would go shopping and with some help from his kids or the supermarket staff he could always make sure to get what his family needed. He was very quick and effective at personal shopping.

When Covid-19 Alert Level 3 & 4 were announced, the extra rules on shopping made this impossible for Jonathan. He could not go shopping in person as people were only allowed to shop on their own and no helpers were allowed. Jonathan has tried to shop online but the online shops do not contain product information that his ScreenReader software can access. This means that he can not get the information he needs to purchase food online.

Jonathan was excluded from the food shopping experience because of the barriers. This had a negative impact on Jonathan and his role within his family. Jonathan wants shops to show that they value disabled people by making the shopping process accessible.

Prudence says that disabled people often make choices about the products and services they buy based on accessibility. She says that Covid-19 limited many choices, meaning that disabled people had to change their ways of getting what they need. 

Prudence says that since Covid-19, food suppliers should take the opportunity to make their services accessible for thewholepopulationincluding disabled people.

The video was made for the DPO Coalition with funding from the Office for Disability Issues. The video was produced by Activate Agency.

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