Coronavirus home testing kits made more accessible for people with sight loss

Posted: Monday 22 February 2021
Covid test, corona, accessible tests

The government has introduced new improvements to the home testing programme to make them more accessible to those living with sight loss.

Charities in the sight loss sector, including the Macular Society, worked closely with NHS Test and Trace to recruit volunteers to better understand the challenges the test presented to those living with visual impairments.

A number of trials were undertaken with volunteers to understand the changes that would have the most impact.

As a result of the feedback, a number of changes are being introduced for those ordering home test kits who are visually impaired. These include:

  •  Improved boxes that are easier to assemble for the returning of tests.
  •  Instructions in braille, audio (CD) and large print. 
  • An RNIB information line you can call to hear a recorded version of the instructions. 

Those who do not have access to the internet will also be able to order PCR home testing kits over the phone by calling 119, without needing an email address or any other digital requirement.

Additionally, the government is planning to launch a support service, run by the 'Be My Eyes' app in the spring. The service will provide live video assistance where a specially trained assistant will 'act as their eyes'.

Berni Warren, who has diabetic macular oedema (DMO) had previously ordered a home PCR test with the help of her husband. Berni trialled the new Be My Eyes service to order and use a home test and said:

"I did it previously with my husband and I did it completely wrong. I also needed a lot of help from him. This trial was an opportunity to do it myself, so I used Be My Eyes because then I knew I could do it independently and I wanted to do it independently. I didn't want to rely on any other help from my family, and they are all at work anyway.

"So, I phoned Be My Eyes to give me a hand and it was brilliant – really, really good. It gave me the confidence to do it properly and safely. The test is a bit fiddly, but to have someone to talk you through it really helped, because then I knew I was doing it right. I wouldn't have had the confidence to know I was doing it the right way otherwise and I would have worried sending it off."

The home testing service is available to everyone in the United Kingdom with coronavirus symptoms, and can still be accessed through the home testing online portal.