Some kits require a visually impaired person to read and administer the test correctly.
“We need to look at the COVID testing process, break it down into the component parts of the process and figure out how to make them more inclusive,” Ms Fleet said in an interview. He said it could range from scrutinizing test prices to gauging the ease of their instructions.
At-home COVID-19 tests have been in high demand since December, as infections soared and people sought them ahead of holiday celebrations. Home test kits are especially important for people who can’t stand in long lines for public testing sites or access them, accessibility advocates say.
The Biden administration is aiming to distribute 1 billion free home tests starting this month, though some health-policy analysts say demand may still slacken.
For people with disabilities, achieving testing at home is only part of the challenge: Many kits are difficult or impossible for them to access on their own. Some people use colors to communicate information, making it difficult for colorblind users to test correctly; lack of online audio or video complements to their written instructions; Or administration requires physical accuracy and dexterity.
The problems are reminiscent of the state of the Covid-19 vaccine booking system early last year, when people with disabilities found themselves at a loss as they tried to find appointments.
For example, the popular BinaxNow Covid-19 home test kit, manufactured by Abbott Laboratories, asks users to check if a control line changes from blue to pinkish-purple to confirm the test is working properly.
Those colors have limited contrast from each other and from the tested white background, said Kathryn Albany-Ward, founder and chief executive of Color Blind Awareness, an advocacy group.
“Since there are different types and severity of color blindness, tests should be designed so that the lines have maximum contrast with the background color,” Ms. Albany-Ward said in an email.
An Abbott spokesperson said the tests were designed to be affordable and accessible to reach as many people as possible.
“As we look to future test development, we continue to design with accessibility and affordability in mind and see how testing and technology can work together to make at-home testing even greater accessibility. be enabled, such as [for] Low vision,” she said.
Many test manufacturers say that their tests are accessible through options such as calling a hotline for help with instructions, or can be accessed with the help of a caregiver.
But few offer apps to help, or say they will.
The makers of the Quickview at-home OTC COVID-19 test are developing a companion app to provide an automated result interpretation for colorblind people, a spokesperson said.
“Everyone at Quiddell is working nonstop to meet the tremendous demand for testing for all Americans,” she said.
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Kit can share results through collaborative apps for Android and iOS mobile devices. A spokesperson said the apps are compatible with screen reader technology that can make the results audible.
“We’re constantly iterating on our technology, including running dedicated accessibility tests to ensure we’re gathering insights to make Q accessible and user-friendly to everyone,” he added.
The company said Alum USA LLC’s COVID-19 test functions in a similar fashion, with an app that includes an informative video and displays the words “positive” or “negative” to show the results, which can be sent to users’ emails. Can also be sent to this address.
But more accessible tests can also cost more. Elume’s single-test kit retails for about $38 at some stores, while Cue sells a pack of three tests for $225.
A BinaxNow box with two tests costs about $20 at Walmart and $24 at Kroger.
“People who are old or new blind, or who don’t have the technical skills or digital access they need, may choose not to purchase a more accessible test,” Ms Fleet said.
FDA spokesman Jim McKinney said the US Food and Drug Administration recommends that people with disabilities complete the home test with the help of another person.
Accessibility experts say more solutions need to be available sooner rather than later, partly because seeking help from others carries the risk of transmitting COVID-19.
“We are Americans who are going to get sick like everyone else,” said Brian Bashin, chief executive officer of Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a non-profit organization based in San Francisco.
Write Ann-Marie Alcantara [email protected] . Feather