In April 2020, in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the American Foundation for the Blind took the lead in the Flatten Inaccessibility study. The purpose of the study was to learn how those who were blind or have low vision were affected early on by the pandemic.

Download the Report (PDF)

Flatten Inaccessibility report cover - dark blue background with white text and a montage of photos. Research report September 2020, Impact of COVID-19 on Blind and Visually Impaired Adults in the United States

The Journey Forward: Recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Though COVID-19 restrictions have eased and many Americans are beginning to venture out to shop, socialize, and work, we know that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on all our lives. AFB is conducting the Journey Forward study. The study began in summer 2021 with a survey conducted with U.S. adults who are blind, have low vision, or are deafblind. In fall 2021, the researchers will conduct focus groups with leaders in agencies and organizations supporting those with vision loss. It’s important that we understand the short-term and long-term impact of the pandemic on those with vision loss and learn from their experiences so we can address both COVID-created and systemic issues impacting the lives of those who are blind, have low vision, or are deafblind.

The Journey Forward study will continue the story begun with the Flatten Inaccessibility study. Read the report in which the authors examined the impact of COVID-19 on 1,921 adults with visual impairments in the United States. Though data were collected in April 2020, the systemic issues and challenges related to COVID-19 must be addressed in order to ensure equal access for all. Read the report online, or download and share the accessible PDF. Let others know how you are building on the study findings in your work, personal advocacy efforts, or policy efforts by using #FlattenInaccessibility.

Flatten Inaccessibility Survey Composition

The survey contained questions in 10 sections. The first two sections were required. After that participants could select which sections they wished to complete based on their own personal concerns. The 10 sections were:

Survey Participants

Over 2,400 people opened the survey link. After a careful analysis of surveys submitted, 1,921 surveys were found to be complete enough for analysis. At minimum participants completed the demographic and technology sections of the survey and many completed 4 or more additional sections.

Sharing the Study Findings

The study authors have shared the findings in multiple ways:

Participating Organizations

  • American Council of the Blind
  • Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • American Foundation for the Blind
  • Aira Tech Corp
  • American Printing House for the Blind
  • Be My Eyes
  • Council of Schools and Services for the Blind
  • Humanware
  • The Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute
  • National Federation of the Blind
  • National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation
  • Objective Ed
  • Prevent Blindness
  • Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness: NFB/Louisiana Tech
  • VisionServe Alliance
  • Vispero

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