Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

At-Home Coronavirus Tests: Inaccessible to People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern

For millions of Americans, testing for Coronavirus can be as easy as ordering an at-home rapid test online or buying one in a store. However, for those of us with vision loss, obtaining testing isn’t easy, and we find ourselves not being able to test as frequently as we’d prefer. Venturing out to seek testing can be full of unseen hazards, like not being able to tell if people around you are masking or socially distancing properly. As a result, many people with vision loss are self-isolating to avoid exposure risks for themself and others, as there currently are no fully accessible at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests must be completed with precision and completing them properly requires the user to read printed directions. Not every person with vision loss has access to a sighted person who is safe and willing to help them with testing. For now, we must rely on apps like BeMyEyes and Aira, which connect users with a sighted person who can guide them through the process. However, these methods are not private and are inaccessible to those without smartphones. To address the lack of accessible testing, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) sent a letter to the Biden Administration thanking them for their dedication to obtaining tests and urging that they ensure that at-home tests are fully accessible for all Americans, including those with low or no vision, to improve and protect their health. For now, we can sacrifice some privacy and independence to conduct at-home tests. Hopefully, manufacturers will take this feedback and lack of attention to accessibility into account to make the changes necessary, such as offering Braille or large print instructions, to make the test fully accessible. For an in-depth analysis of this issue, read The New York Times article: At-Home Coronoavirus Tests Are Inaccessible to Blind People. Read the NFB letter here.