Braille Monitor                  March 2022

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COVID Testing for the Blind Remains a Problem

by Gary Wunder

Since the start of the pandemic, blind people have found ourselves at a significant disadvantage relative to those who can see. Determining that one has COVID is the first step, and it is here that we find our first stumbling block. In many places tests were administered in outside venues: drive up, stay in your car, wait in line for hours regardless the weather, roll down your window, and have the test administered without any contact between you and the person doing the swab. For blind people getting access to a vehicle has been difficult; one does not call an Uber or Lyft and suggest, “I may be sick. Please come to pick me up, and then let’s sit for hours in a line. If I am right and I’m sick, you too will get a chance to be exposed. Oh, and about the cost of the ride: do you have any options for monthly payments?”

Now we have the promised at-home tests, but wouldn’t you know it, their interpretation is based on color, and it is up to the blind person to figure out how to get it read. You will find that you and we, through our National Federation of the Blind, are addressing it in several ways, including this article and one other that discusses our work with Aira to see that we can read our tests. If you want to jump right to that information, you may go to https://nfb.org/resources/covid-19-resources/covid-19-home-test-information.

Here is what we have received as a result of our concerns addressed to the White House. Let us be proud of our role in working on testing, realizing this is but the first of many steps that need to be taken to make testing equitable.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 24, 2022

FACT SHEET:

Administration Announces New Actions to Address the Needs of People with Disabilities and Older Adults in Response to and Recovery from COVID-19

The Administration recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has had tremendous impacts on disabled individuals and has resulted in new members of the disability community.
Over the past year, the Administration has collaborated and consulted with the disability community and taken several key actions to address the unique needs of individuals with disabilities. Among other actions, the U.S. government released key civil rights guidance to protect disabled individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic or any public health emergency; prioritized Long COVID services, supports, and research in the context of disability; established a call line dedicated to ensuring individuals with disabilities can equitably utilize the Administration’s at-home test distribution program; ensured disabled individuals and other high-risk individuals have access to at-home testing; and invested American Rescue Plan (ARP) resources to build COVID-19 vaccine confidence and access among people with disabilities.

Moving forward, the Administration will take several key steps to further our work to ensure that disabled individuals, regardless of where they live or the level of community transmission of the virus, have equitable access to COVID-19 testing, masks, and other critical mitigation strategies. The Administration remains committed to implementing these policies and developing additional policies in close collaboration with the disability community—keeping equity and accessibility at the center of our COVID-19 response and beyond. The Administration will:

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