At-Home Coronavirus Tests Are Inaccessible to Blind People

Christy Smith has never been tested for the coronaviruses. She can't go to the testing sites near her home because they are too far away. Alternative options like public transportation, ride share apps or having a friend drive her to a test site would put other people at risk.

Ms. Smith can't take the rapid tests that millions of other people are taking at home because they don't have a guide.

Many people who are blind or have limited vision are not being tested as often as they would like because testing is too difficult.

Ms. Smith said that not all of us have access to someone to help with things on a regular basis. She said that she felt a bit helpless.

When Ms. Smith's husband fell sick with a sore throat, stuffy nose, and a high temperature last fall, he and her were isolated at home until his symptoms disappeared. They didn't know what caused the infection.

Video call apps like Be My Eyes and Aira help blind people take at- home tests. These services pair blind individuals with a sighted person who can help them through a test.

Not everyone who is blind owns a phone or is able to use one. Blind people rely on others for privacy and independence.

Martin Wingfield, the head of brand at the Royal National Institute of Blind People in Britain, said that it was your personal health information. You should be the first to know.

Mr. Wingfield is part of a team that created a home pregnancy test that can be felt by a blind person. The prototype uses a battery-operated motor to turn the strip into raised bumps.

It is the same type of test used to detect the coronaviruses at home. Mr. Wingfield said that the prototype could be modified to make at- home coronaviruses tests more accessible. He said that the cost of the tests would be between $20 and $30.

Hoby Wedler, a blind chemist andentrepreneur, said that a change in smell or temperature could be used to deliver test results. Most at- home tests use substances that change color after a chemical reaction. He said that the indicators can do other things than change color.

Although a change in scent might not be useful for Covid patients, Dr. Wedler argued that other types of at- home tests could be made more accessible through concepts like this.

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Hoby Wedler is an advocate for the blind. Bryan Meltz is a writer for The New York Times.

Ms. Charlson is asking manufacturers to make home tests more accessible after working with health agencies to create more walk-up test site options.

The popular test is made by Abbott. When developing new tests, Abbott will continue to design with access and affordability in mind, but she wouldn't say if Abbott has plans for a redesign.

The president of the National Federation of the Blind said that some fixes could be as simple as changing the test instructions. Mr. Riccobono had to ask his oldest child to read the instructions for the tests he and his wife took at home.

The phone number that people could call for instructions was provided by the manufacturers. He suggested that blind people be given a template to use to orient them as to where they should put their liquid or saliva.

He said that there are some easy things we can do.

In Britain, accessible instructions are already available, according to Michael Wordingham, a policy officer with the Royal National Institute of Blind People. These instructions can be found in a variety of formats, including audio and large text.

Mr. Wordingham said that if you think about the swab, it would tell you to open it out of the other end and not to take it out of the packet.

Even the simplest solutions will take time to be implemented. Karen Johnson, 37, of Fort Wayne, Ind., is largely staying home to be safe because of the lack of good testing options.

Ms. Johnson said it was too difficult for her to be tested before and after a flight because she didn't know how. Ms. Johnson wears a mask to protect her from other people who might be wearing a mask or not staying six feet away.

She would love to have a public service where workers come to people's homes to collect samples and run tests. Private companies like ParaDocs and Scarlet offer this service, but they cost more than regular at- home tests and are only available in large cities such as New York and Los Angeles.

Ms. Johnson might be able to get tested if these services were cheaper and more widespread.

Ms. Johnson said she would like to have peace of mind that she didn't catch it.