When the virus becomes reality – inclusivity with a little twist

Close your eyes and watch: a blind man entering TV

Dear friends

Second article, first change of plans – I guess that must be a new record. Sorry to disappoint you, but despite last time‘s bold announcement, today’s post is not about sports on TV. You will probably have to wait for that until next time, and the reason for that should be obvious: no, Corona has not exactly passed me without my noticing. Quite the contrary, one evening all of a sudden the virus came very close to me.

At first, since I am blind, I was worried about whether I would master the technical challenges of constantly working from home, with daily team calls.

The original plan had been that I take part in a series of trainings with 16 other “Volontäre“ from early March to the middle of May. While, for reasons well known, the classes did not continue for too long, it went blow on blow the next few days: Friday last day of the trainings, Monday morning back in my team, just working from home now... and on Monday evening the message arrived, a colleague from the training classes is infected! Hearing about it on the news, it sounds so theoretical and far away, but when Corona is suddenly so close, the feeling that gives you is not very pleasant. It does not make a difference whether you are blind, deaf or none of these two. A special type of inclusivity, in a way...

Then the “Corona shock“ had the effect of bringing us together as a group on a much more intense level.

Especially in those first few days I was very fond of the work I had to do at home every day – it made sure that boredom never became an issue. At first, since I am blind, I was worried about whether I would master the technical challenges of constantly working from home, with daily team calls. In its desktop version, which I had known before, Microsoft Teams is accessible only to a limited extent. But now I quickly realized that the smartphone app is much more neatly arranged and easier to use for me. Maybe this can also be helpful advice for some of my sighted colleagues. For me it will remain an important learning from these strange months which I have already been able to use on other tools such as our “HR-Portal“ as well. Of course there are other positive aspects about the current situation too: the effort of commuting has disappeared and in some video meetings the atmosphere is loosened up by curious children or wild birds entering the room (yes, this really happened, and no, neither the animal nor my colleague were injured). But I will still be glad when we all meet at the campus again. While commuting can be stressful, it is a good thing having your day clearly structured, free time here, work there, mostly at least.

The ones that I am looking forward to meeting most are my fabulous fellow “Volontäre“ from the trainings. In our two short weeks together we had all gotten along very well. Just as in my other teams, everybody was glad to assist me if needed and many were very interested in hearing about my background. Then the “Corona shock“ had the effect of bringing us together as a group on a much more intense level. Over the following few weeks, we always kept in contact with each other via chat, hoping and worrying with one another. And while I definitely could have lived without all that, I am sure that none of us will ever forget it. An example for how great these guys are is that they have sometimes even described pictures and videos sent via mobile to me immediately. So thank you and a huge shout out to my “Team Volontäne“. Soon we will see each other again... you will see me, that is.

But to all those who feel mentally bothered by this current crisis or who have even been severely affected by the virus themselves, in their family or among their acquaintances, let me tell you something that I learned during the time when I turned blind and afterwards: no matter how horrible calamities may be, they almost always come with something positive, such as the possibility to take a risk or make a change. I do know that things do not always turn out as nicely as they have for me and that in the darkest hour smart words are not worth anything. But that hour will pass. The important thing is to continue thinking positive and to keep an eye on each other. #P7S1InThisTogether

On that note, I would finally like to introduce a regular section into this blog. Being a huge fan of music, from now on I will present you a different song fitting the respective subject every time under the headline “Open your ears!“. For all those stricken by Corona or private misfortunes let me start today with fantastic punk band Rise Against and their song “Tragedy + Time“, reminding us with all their intensity but not as loudly as usual that even the deepest scars will eventually heal. This song was released in 2014, a time when I really needed it. The following link will take you only to the “lyric video“. That way it is easier for you to capture the lyrics. And by the way, I cannot see a video either, so why should you have it any better?

So take care, and make use of your ears... They bring you music, that alone makes them wonderful.

Yours,

Alex