Although I did talk about the COVID-19 pandemic several times, I feel it is important to talk about it more extensively due to recent developments:
Dear Win10 Forum family, Microsoft staff, screen reader vendors, and others,
I am Joseph S. Lee, the owner and head list representative of Win10 Forum for Screen Reader Users.
Almost a year ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Since then, we have witnessed physical and social distancing, importance of wearing masks, and getting acquainted with digital life in more places. Millions lost their lives, families are grieving, pharmaceutical companies are refining vaccines, and public health officials are developing ways to combat virus variants.
I understand that some may have experienced COVID-19 symptoms directly. Still others experienced the pandemic in other ways, including finances, education, to name a few. Asian Americans and other minority groups experienced racism and other unspeakable effects of the pandemic. For people with disabilities like most of us here, we had difficulty navigating the data behind the pandemic and its progress in early days. More importantly, the pandemic is accelerating adoption of all things digital and remote, impacting everyone in various ways.
Still there is hope: at least rate of infection is slowing down in parts of the world. Vaccines are being developed, refined, and distributed. More people are adjusting to digital life and work, with companies such as Microsoft acknowledging critical impact of the pandemic; the fact that the upcoming Windows 10 Version 21H1 is a minor enablement package update speaks to the changes the health situation brought to our digital lives.
But we must remain vigilant. Just because vaccines are being refined does not mean we should not wear masks in public. Variants speaks to the importance of washing hands and following public health guidelines. More importantly, to stay productive in digital life, you need to take care of your physical and emotional (and for some, spiritual) health first; it is perfectly fine to be passionate about Windows 10 ecosystem and accessibility, but you should think about your well-being, too.
As a forum leader, the well-being of the forum and its members is a priority. This is more so when we are dealing with a once in a century health crisis that is affecting everyone. Although the purpose of the forum (and the Insiders subgroup) is discussing Windows 10 ecosystem from screen reader users perspective, it is also important to encourage members and to check in with people on health matters given the uncertainties we are facing. This is more critical for a population requiring specific means of accessing latest information. As I wrote above, your health (physical, emotional, spiritual) comes first.
So I would like to ask: how are you all doing? Is there anything I and members can help?
If you need to talk about anything, I’m always available (email, Twitter, Facebook). And please, please, please wear masks in public, wash hands, and follow guidelines from public health officials including physical and social distancing rules. Please help one another as we navigate all things digital and remote. What will help us better navigate the pandemic landscape is not Windows 10 and screen readers, but support and well-being of individuals and groups.