Information pathways and Covid-19

11 June 2021

Wellington SeniorNet facilitator Alan Royal writes about the benefits of creating mind maps to share online information.

The Covid-19 lockdown revealed many ‘hidden’ technology-related issues. Lack of confidence in handling apparently simple technology issues, as well as a lack of awareness of how to go about seeking information on solving technology issues, were prominent.

Also prominent was a confidence and awareness situation related to Covid-19 information.

Living in a retirement village made me more aware of these problems.

During lockdowns I was unable to visit residents, but I was able to address solutions either by email or phone.

I could visit and work on a computer, phone, tablet or TV in the absence of the person. This meant they would give me sole access to their villa or apartment.

Retirement village residents (50 percent of the 65+ age group have one or more impairments) represent a cross section of all impairments – sight, hearing, mobility, cognitive and learning difficulties. In my experience, the latter two are the major source
of impairments.

This provides a good base in understanding how to get information across to the impaired community.

Living with Covid-19 introduced many other needs related to health and wellbeing. To meet these needs, in a simple manner, for older people in general, I developed a process using a mind map.

Alan Royal’s Covid Plan mind map is a useful and easy way to share information. For a larger map, visit

A mind map is a useful way to present, in a diagram, a mass of information, in this case web links, on a single page.

While I was working with older people, the result of the exercise is relevant to the impaired population.

Another feature is that it is a dynamic tool that can be added to and updated in real time, so the information is always up to date.

Feedback on this approach has been positive. Users have found the simplicity of the approach has given them confidence to explore further and made them more aware of what information is useful, relevant and available during stressful lockdown situations.

As noted, confidence and awareness were two major hurdles to get over during lockdowns. 

The lockdowns also provided an opportunity to school many people on how to use search engines such as Google to explore not only technology related issues, but, for example, extending the health and exercise tools noted in the mind map.

I have used the word impairment in these notes rather than the word disability. In many situations an impairment only becomes a disability if technology, information (web and print), services, infrastructure, environment or community cannot resolve an impairment – then it becomes a disability.

In the case described above information and technology have combined to make help accessible.


Alan Royal is a member of Wellington City Council’s Accessibility Advisory Group and a facilitator with Wellington SeniorNet.

This article was originally published in the Winter 2021 edition of In Touch magazine.

For more information please contact: 
Melanie Louden 
Communications and Marketing Advisor 
Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Zealand 
027 509 8774 
[email protected]