Last updated: May 15, 2020
Our results will come in installments. Please navigate through the table of contents below.
With installment #5, this concludes the survey updates. Please note, in our original results posting we indicated we had 1,970 participants. We explain in the second installment how we reached the final sample size of 1,921.
If you're looking for an accessible site for worldwide COVID-19 statistics, check cvstats.net.
Fifteen organizations and companies concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on adults with visual impairments in the United States, came together to launch the Flatten Inaccessibility Survey on April 3, 2020. The survey was open for 10 days closing on April 13.
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:
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.
It will take the data analysis team time to "dig in" to the data. We know you are anxious for data, so here are a few things we can tell you now.
Beginning in section 3 of the survey, participants were asked, "Do you have any concerns about [section topic] as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?" They were provided 3 response choices:
Not every participant chose to answer questions in each of the 8 sections. Below is a list reporting how many participants answered questions in each section.
When you work with data, sometimes as you "dig in" you find you need to exclude cases for various reasons. The data team opted to drop 10 surveys with insufficient responses and 39 surveys with responses from outside the U.S. Our new number of responses is 1,921. We’ve updated our Installment #1 results to reflect this change in our sample size.
As we noted in our first installment, 1,921 participants completed the Flatten Inaccessibility Survey. We gave you some basic demographic information. Here's more so that you can begin to understand who completed the survey.
We provided 7 age groups and the option to not provide the information. Our participants fall into these age groups:
In the second section of the survey participants were asked about their technology use.
Participants were given a list of technology tools and asked to select the tools they routinely use. They could select multiple options. At least one technology tool was selected by 1,879 participants. Of these participants, almost all (98.5%) reported using a smartphone. Four out of 5 (83.2%) use an iPhone and 287 (15.3%) use an Android phone.
Participants were given a list of ways to access technology and asked to indicate which, if any, they routinely used. This question was answered by 1,902 participants.
The group of participants were well versed in technology. For example, 1,865 participants reported using at least one of the apps/programs listed in the survey.
294 (29.8%) of the participants reported they were meeting with a healthcare provider using telehealth. One out of 5 of those participants using tele-health (20.7%) reported the system was not accessible.
This report builds on previously reported technology data and reports new data for the topics of transportation and healthcare demographics.
Almost all of the 1,921 participants completing the Flatten Inaccessibly survey had internet at home (n = 1,871, 93.4%) prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Only 12 participants reported getting internet at home once the COVID-19 pandemic began. Very few, only 10 participants, reported canceling their internet since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Reasons given included: conserving money as they were uncertain about the future due to the COVID-19 pandemic (n = 3), being laid off or losing their job due to the COVID-19 pandemic (n = 2), and changing living arrangements due to the COVID-19 pandemic (n = 2).
Participants were provided a list of technology tools and asked to select all of the tools they routinely use. Below the tools are arranged from tools reported being used by the most participants to those being used by the least number of participants. After each tool the number of participants (n) using the tool and percentage of the total sample size (n = 1,921) is reported.
Participants were provided space to write in other technology tools they use. Responses were wide ranging including video magnifiers (CCTVs), scanners, smart TVs, and devices for listening to audio books such as the Victor Reader Stream.
Participants were provided a list of apps/programs and asked to select all of the apps/programs they routinely use. Below the apps/programs are arranged from those reported being used by the most participants to the least number of participants. After each app/program the number of participants (n) and percentage of the total sample represented is reported.
Participants were asked to provide other apps/websites they routinely use. There were many listed by the participants falling into categories including rideshare services (e.g., Uber, Lyft), food delivery services (e.g., Uber Eats, Door Dash), audio books (e.g., BARD), relaxation, entertainment, exercise, and assistance with visual tasks (e.g., color identifier, money reader) among others.
In this section, two statements were provided to participants. They were asked to select their level of agreement using the ratings "strongly disagree" (1); "disagree" (2); "neither agree nor disagree" (3); "agree" (4); or "strongly agree" (5). Participants also had the option to select "Not applicable to me."
A total of 1,692 participants selected their level of agreement for the statement, “I am concerned that visual information about the COVID-19 pandemic is being shown on the television and that this information is not accessible to me.” The mean (M) on this item was 3.51 and the standard deviation (SD) on this item was 1.23. These values indicate that the average response was close to a neutral sentiment.
A total of 1,542 participants selected their level of agreement for the statement, "As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have increased my use of apps designed to connect people with visual impairments with sighted assistance (e.g., Aira, Be My Eyes)." The mean (M) was 2.77 and the standard deviation (SD) was 1.20. These values indicate that most participants did not have an increase in use of apps designed to connect people with visual impairments with sighted assistance.
When asked whether participants had any concerns about transportation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than two-thirds (68.0%) of participants answered "yes" and were willing to answer questions about transportation.
Participants were given 10 statements and using the same scale used for the technology statements selected their level of agreement with each statement. Below are the statements in order from those rated with the highest level of concern to those rated with the lowest level of concern. After each statement in parenthesis are the number of participants rating the statement (n), the mean (M), and the standard deviation (SD). The closer the mean is to 5, the more strongly participants agreed with the statement, that is had the greatest level of concern.
Participants were asked "Do you have an additional disability or underlying health condition in addition to your blindness or low vision?" It is worth noting that almost all (n = 1,909, 99.4%) of the total participants (n = 1,921) taking the survey answered this question.
More than 2 out of 5 (n = 781, 40.6%) of participants reported an additional disability or underlying health concern. One health concern was selected by 348 participants, two by 242 participants, three by 113 participants, and 81 participants selected from four to eight concerns. Participants were provided a list of health concerns and asked to select all that applied to them. The list below goes from the most frequently selected to least frequently selected with the number of participants making the selection (n) in parenthesis. Only conditions selected by 25 or more participants are listed.
The 781 participants who reported an underlying health condition were asked, "Do you feel that your underlying health conditions make you particularly vulnerable if you are exposed to the COVID-19 virus?" Three in five (n = 469, 60.0%) selected "yes."
In a future installment, we will provide information about the concerns of participants as they relate to healthcare.
This installment reports on participants’ health concerns, access to food, meals, and needed supplies, and employment.
Participants were given 17 statements and asked to select their level of agreement with each statement. The same scale used for previous concern statements described in installment #3 was also used throughout the survey. The scale goes from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5). Participants selected their level of agreement with each statement. Below are the statements in order from those rated with the highest level of concern to those rated with the lowest level of concern. After each statement in parenthesis are the number of participants rating the statement (n), the mean (M), and the standard deviation (SD). The closer the mean is to 5, the more strongly participants agreed with the statement, that is had the greatest level of concern.
This section of the survey gathered information from participants about how they were getting food, meals, and supplies. A question asked about participants’ grocery shopping habits prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following each statement in parenthesis is the number of participants who provided the information.
Participants were given 8 statements and asked to select their level of agreement with each statement. Below are the statements in order from those rated with the highest level of concern to those rated with the lowest level of concern.
Participants were asked about their employment status. Almost 3 out of 10 (n=518, 28.8%) of the participants were not employed prior to COVID-19. The remainder were employed full-time (n=523, 29.0%), part-time (n=182, 10.1%), or retired (n=419, 23.3%). For 57 participants who were employed full-time prior to COVID-19, the pandemic caused the business they worked at to close or lay them off. The same was true for 102 participants who reported they had been working part-time. When asked if they would seek employment after the pandemic ends, 1,081 participants answered. About a third (n=362, 33.5%) of the 1,081 participants anticipated seeking employment, 20.5% (n=222) were not sure; and 46.0% (n= 497) were not planning on seeking employment after the pandemic has ended. When asked about their status with unemployment benefits, 487 participants responded with 79.7% (n=388) saying they were not planning on applying for unemployment, 10.5% (n=51) were considering applying, 7.6% (n=37) had applied, and 2.3% (n=6) were already collecting unemployment.
There were 384 participants who had concerns about their employment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than a third (n=122, 36.4) of the 384 participants had their work hours reduced or anticipated having their work hours reduced as a result of the pandemic. Nearly a third (n=109, 32.7%) of the participants had their pay reduced or anticipated reduced pay.
When asked about where they report to work, 321 participants answered the question. Most (n=263, 82.0%) were working from home. For nearly two-thirds (n=206, 64.2%) of participants their employer had directed them to work from home as a result of the pandemic; while 17.8% (n=57) were already working from home before the pandemic. There were 34 (10.6%) of the participants who were reporting to their place of employment (outside their home) with few, if any, changes in how the business uses technology. There were 24 (7.5%) of the participants who were reporting to their place of employment with changes in how the business uses technology.
Based on survey responses, it would seem that most participants are adapting to the technology demands of working from home. However, responses to many of the questions in this section indicate that between a quarter and a third of participants were affected by various technology issues. For example, 56 (22.1%) of 253 participants reported they were not able to access technology at home that was essential for their ability to do their job. Accommodations to allow the employee to be more productive working at home were requested by 63 (25%) of 252 participants. More than a third, 96 (37.9%) of the 253 participants were experiencing an accessibility problem with at least one of the technology tools needed to do their job. About 1 in 5 (n=55, 18.3%) of 300 participants either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “I am concerned that I will lose my job because there are work tasks I am having difficulty/no longer able to perform” (M = 2.35, SD=1.20).
Over two-thirds (67.1%) of 255 participants reported their employer had introduced new technology tools to facilitate working from home. Tools introduced included web conferencing platforms (e.g., Zoom, WebEx), communication tools (e.g., Slack, Microsoft Teams), VPN software, and proprietary software. While 173 (68.9%) of the 251 participants reported they were not provided training on how to use new technology tools their employer introduced for working from home, 76 (67.1%) agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “The training I received to use new technology tools my employer introduced was accessible to me” (M=3.70, SD=1.27).
Participants were resourceful and used a variety of ways to learn new technology tools for working from home. Twenty-three (30.7%) of the 75 participants who answered this question learned the tool on their own, while 13 (17.3%) attended training provided by their employer, and 10 (13.3%) sought assistance from another employee. Other participants used an app or sought assistance from a family member or another person with a visual impairment.
This is the fifth and last installment that shares the results from the Flatten Inaccessibility survey in this format. Findings from this study will be shared in other formats in the coming months and years. We encourage you to periodically check back to this site for information about reports, journal articles, and conference presentations.
You may also want to learn about the results of a parallel study, Access and Engagement to Education for Students with Visual Impairments. This study examines the impact of COVID-19 on the education of children with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities and deaf-blindness. Results for the study will be posted during June 2020 at: https://www.accessengagement.com/results.html.
This installment for Flatten Inaccessibility reports on participant’s current education, the K-12 education of the children they are supporting, their social experiences, and their voting behaviors.
Participants were asked about their current educational experience and how the COVID-19 pandemic was impacting their education. Nearly 7 in 10 (n=218, 69.4%) of 314 participants had concerns about access to their education or training as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic Four in 10 (n=116, 40.5%) of the participants either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: "I am concerned that I will not complete the class, semester, quarter, and/or program due to my visual impairment" (M=3.01, SD=1.34).
Of the 1,809 participants who provided information, 313 (17.3%) were attending an educational program on March 1, 2020, or about to attend one prior to May 1, 2020. Participants were provided a list of education programs and asked to select all the programs they were attending or expecting to attend on March 1, 2020/May 1, 2020. A total of 183 participants selected at least one option from the list, with 30 selecting two or more options. After each program type the number of participants (n) and the percentage of participants who selected the option are reported.
There were 184 participants who answered a question asking about where/how they were attending classes. Items with more than 10 responses are reported below.
Participants could also write in responses describing where/how they were attending classes. Several commented that they were waiting for information about classes moving online while others commented that the format for the class prior to COVID-19 was online.
Nearly two-thirds of 124 participants (n=82, 66.1%) reported their school has introduced new technology tools for accessing curriculum from home. Of 82 participants, 4 in 10 found these tools were not accessible (n=33, 40.24%). Five of 32 participants reported they were provided training in how to use new tools that were introduced for online learning.
In the study sample of 1,921 individuals, 1,793 participants answered a question asking them if they were the parent or guardian of a child in K-12 education. There were 238 (13.3%) participants who reported they were. More than half of 241 participants (55.6%) had concerns about their child’s access to education as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly half of 82 participants (n=40, 48.7%) agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: "I am concerned that my child is not accessing online learning as successfully as classmates due to my visual impairment and the COVID-19 pandemic" (M=3.32, SD=1.51).
Participants were asked to select all the statements that pertained to their child’s education as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. At least one statement was selected by 111 participants with 51 selecting multiple statements. The statements are followed by the number and percentage of participants who selected the statement. Only statements selected by 10 or more participants are reported.
Of 90 participants, 77 (86.6%) reported their child’s school had introduced new technology tools to access curriculum from home. Almost 6 in 10 of 89 participants (n=53, 59.6%) found the tools were not accessible. Only 9 (10.1%) of 89 participants were provided training in how to use new technology for online delivery of instruction.
Participants were asked about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their social experiences. Almost two-thirds (63.5%) of 1,810 participants had concerns about their social experiences as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants were given 7 statements and asked to select their level of agreement with each statement from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5). Below are the statements in order from those rated with the highest level of concern to those rated with the lowest level of concern. After each statement in parenthesis are the number of participants (n), the mean (M), and the standard deviation (SD). The closer the mean is to 5, the more strongly participants agreed with the statement - that is had the greatest level of concern.
Of 1,790 participants, 90.8% reported they were registered to vote in the United States. Participant were asked how they typically vote in elections. Their selections are listed below along with counts and percentages for each option.
A total of 1,461 participants selected a statement to describe their voting or caucusing in the 2020 United States primaries.
For 1,565 participants, 444 (28.4%) expected to have an accessible way to mark their ballot, 22.7% did not expect to have an accessible way to mark their ballot, 39.4% were not sure about ballot accessibility, and 9.6% reported that ballot accessibility was not applicable to them.