Ms Charlson has been working with health authorities to create more options for testing sites, and she is now asking manufacturers to make home testing more accessible.
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One such company is Abbott, which makes the popular BinaxNOW test. In developing new tests, Aly Morici, an Abbott spokeswoman, said the company will “continue to design with access and affordability in mind,” but she declined to provide details about whether Abbott has plans for a redesign.
Some solutions may be as simple as changing the test instructions, according to Mark Riccobono, the president of the National Federation of the Blind. When he and his wife, who are both blind, took corona tests at home in November, Mr. Riccobono had to ask his oldest child to read the instructions aloud.
Manufacturers could instead provide a Braille phone number that people can call for instructions, Mr. Riccobono said. He also suggested placing some sort of touchable template over a test card or cartridge to orient blind people where to drop fluid or place their nasal swab.
“It’s not really rocket science, there are some simple things we can do,” he said.
Accessible instructions are already available in Britain, according to Michael Wordingham, a policy officer at the Royal National Institute of Blind People. These instructions, which can be found in braille, large text, or audio formats, explain how to navigate the process using touch.
“When you think of the swab, it would say, ‘Before you take it out of the package, feel the thicker end and make sure you open it at the other end so you don’t contaminate the swab.'” Mr. Wordingham explained.
Still, even the simplest solutions will take time. Without good testing options now, some blind people, like Karen Johnson, 37, of Fort Wayne, Ind., mostly stay home to be safe.