People who are blind or have low vision are eligible for free COVID-19 rapid tests specially designed to be accessible to visually impaired people.
Those needing the tests can sign up and order them through the United States Postal Service or order over the phone at 800-232-0233. Each order is for one package of two accessible tests, and there’s a limit of one order per address. The free tests were announced last week by the Administration for Community Living, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services.
The tests do require a smartphone to take and receive results. According to GBH News, the test needs to be conducted through a free app from the test’s manufacturer, Ellume. The tests connect to the app through Bluetooth, so a Bluetooth-enabled phone is required to use the test.
Ellume provided a list of Bluetooth-enabled smartphones compatible with the tests. The test is compatible with iPhones and Android smartphones, but not Android tablets. An iPhone needs iOS 12 or later, and an Android phone needs Android 6.0 or later and Bluetooth 4.0 or later to run the tests.
According to a statement from the ACL, the app provides step-by-step audio instructions to help blind people and people with low vision take the test, and gives results via audio. Most traditional COVID-19 at-home tests require the user to read two lines on a small testing kit, which can be hard for people with disabilities to use, as GBH reported earlier this year.
Ellume claims 96% accuracy with its at-home test, which uses nasal swabs to collect a sample, and results are available in 15 minutes. The company also promises “clear results written in words, no faint lines to interpret.”
Supplies of the accessible tests are limited, according to the ACL, and the administration encourages those who can use standard rapid tests to not order the accessible tests.
“Because supplies are limited, please order the more accessible tests only if you do not have options for using the standard tests,” reads an ACL statement. “If you have someone you trust who can help you administer the test and interpret results (in person, or through a video platform like FaceTime or Zoom), or can use assistive technology (such as Aira or Be My Eyes), please order the standard tests.”
Anyone is eligible to receive eight free standard at-home rapid tests. As with the accessible tests, the standard tests can be ordered through USPS.
For people who need help ordering or using the accessible tests, ACL’s Disability Information and Access Line is available to help. Contact DIAL by emailing DIAL@usaginganddisability.org or calling 888-677-1199 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. EDT.