USPS to send free, accessible at-home COVID tests to people who are blind or low-vision – GBH News


The federal government this week announced a new initiative to deliver free at-home COVID tests for people who are blind or low-vision. People can now request the set of two tests through the USPS website.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, advocates including the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired have been calling on the government and test manufacturers to create more accessible at-home tests, a lifeline for people who are immunocompromised or especially vulnerable to COVID-19.
Advocates say people who live alone and may not have a family member to help administer a test and read results, or who can’t safely get to a testing site were left without many options for at-home testing.
The new accessible tests work through Bluetooth to provide audible step-by-step instructions on how to take the test, and will provide audio test results. Users will have to download an app from Ellume onto their smartphone.
“Many people work[ed] hard to get this issue the attention it needs and I’m glad accountability is in action,” said Sassy Outwater-Wright, executive director of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. “We have more to do to make testing accessible and equitable, but the work is beginning,”
In February, the Biden-Harris administration committed to addressing challenges faced by the disability community related to COVID, including at-home testing and encouraging the private sector to develop accessible tests.
Disability groups say the free tests are a step in the right direction, although having to use an app excludes some users who may not be proficient with assistive technology, lack tactile or fine motor skills to administer the test or don’t have access to a smartphone.
“While there is a limited supply of the tests themselves and they must be used with a smartphone, the administration heard our call and has answered with this important first step,” Mark Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind, said in a statement to GBH News. “The National Federation of the Blind will continue to advocate and collaborate so that even more testing options soon become available to blind and deafblind people across the nation.”
Supplies of the accessible tests are limited and USPS is urging only people who can’t use standard tests to request them. Tests can be requested through the website or by calling 1-800-232-0233. Anyone who needs additional assistance can contact the Disability Information and Access Line.
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