LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Remember when you first went to the grocery store at the start of the pandemic and all the aisles were turned into one-way only? Now imagine doing that as a person who is visually impaired.
“Think about when the tissue paper pandemic was happening,” Rosa Henderson, who was born visually impaired, said. “People barrel in. You’re heading to the aisle, and you’ve got to grab it before somebody else grabs it. We got to get through the door first.”
Henderson lives in the southwest valley with her husband and daughter. She laughs about it now, but getting by at the start of the pandemic was not funny.
“I can’t just get up and do something like somebody would,” she said. “It’s like, ‘Oh I have to go to the store,’ or ‘I have to go to a doctor’s appointment.’ I have to plan everything in advance to know how I am going to accomplish those things.”
Henderson uses a device called an eSight to help her see more clearly. The high-tech magnifiers help her see at a 20/20 level, she explained. The mounted camera relays images on two screens, which look like large sunglasses.
Those screens are a lifeline. From restaurants going drive-thru only to stores keeping entrances blocked, little changes for most meant big changes for her.
“For us everything takes longer,” she said about living visually impaired. “I’m trying to find an object, I have to scan the shelves. I have to look for the objects. It takes me time to find things.”
Henderson now coaches other people how to use their eSight devices.
“Our hands are part of our vision,” she said. “We have to touch and feel to find things. If I’m going to look at a package, I have to bring it up and see it. You know? And it was like, ‘Don’t touch,’ you know, ‘Look with your eyes.’ Well, my eyes don’t work.”
Coaching for eSight is Henderson’s first career in nearly two decades, she shared. According to state data, those living with a disability are twice as likely to be out of work than abled adults. The data was compiled before the pandemic.
“In my opinion, if you want someone who knows how to work outside the box or figure out a problem and achieve and overcome — that’s somebody with a disability,” she said.