Suitable Covid tests still unavailable to blind people two years into pandemic

Calls have been made to adapt Covid tests for the visually impaired, with a social media activist describing the testing process as “completely inaccessible” to the blind.

Lucy Edwards, a blind YouTuber and TikToker, said Metro.co.uk that the only way you can take a test independently is to use an app called Be My Eyes that connects you with an NHS expert who will then walk you through the process.

“Once I’m connected, my iPhone’s camera can record what I’m doing, although it’s difficult to point a camera when you can’t see what you’re pointing at and you need both hands to do the test,” said them opposite Metro. co.uk.

“In theory, I am able to take the test on my own, but I rely on my sighted fiancé because it just takes a lot longer if I take it alone because it is not an accessible process at all to me.”

Be My Eyes is a free app that “connects blind and visually impaired people with sighted volunteers and company representatives through a live video call for visual support,” according to the company website.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) wants to improve Covid tests for the visually impaired.

Mike Wordingham, the charity’s policy and campaigning officer, told Metro.co.uk that the RNIB was working to improve PCR and lateral flow testing for people with low vision.

Current difficulties for the visually impaired people doing PCR tests at home include reading the box and getting the results, as well as registering the test and ordering a test.

“We managed to make a lot of changes like more support from 119 so you don’t need an email address to order one or get results, a new box, and instructions that don’t require pictures,” he explained.

While apps like Be My Eyes are crucial in helping visually impaired people run their tests and read the results, Wordingham said more changes need to be made to the product to make the tests more accessible.

He said the charity is asking for entirely different types of tests that are easier to do, such as saliva tests. The charity also suggests providing bump side flow tests so that the visually impaired can feel rather than see the result.

In 2020, the RNIB commissioned a prototype of the world’s first tactile pregnancy test.

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