The National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS) is pleased to offer accessible COVID-19 Rapid Testing Instructions for blind and low vision individuals in alternative formats. Since these tests became available to the public, people with print disabilities seeking to perform these tests have had to acquire visual assistance to access the instructions and read the results. Getting assistance has been challenging for many users due to safety and privacy concerns, and financial barriers have prevented some users from accessing assistance remotely, including lack of access to a smart phone and subscription fees for remote assistance services. The NNELS team is proud to be able to help improve access to the testing process for people with print disabilities, a process informed by our extensive experience producing and remediating digital materials for our patrons and publishers.
Currently, rapid test users need to ask their family or friends to walk them through the process while others leverage remote visual interpreter services through remote assistance services like Be My Eyes or Aira. In some countries, tests are done through house visits, or samples taken by the user and then sent back to a lab for analysis. Though all these methods offer access, they are far from ideal as the user may not be afforded the opportunity to conduct the test on their own time and with the greatest independence possible.
To begin addressing this challenge, we have produced accessible rapid test instructions in EPUB, docx and electronic braille formats. All images contain alt-text, and, optionally, tactile graphics in both electronic and hard copy formats are available to supplement the instructions. What this means is that users will now be able to perform most of the testing process independently and privately. Sighted assistance is still required to read the results, but users will only need to spend 2 minutes or less with someone sighted thereby reducing the chance of exposure and call time. All the accessible versions of the instructions have been thoroughly checked by persons with disabilities to ensure that descriptions are clear without being overly verbose.
We recognize that accessible instructions are only one part of access. We hope that by offering these instructions, we can provide individuals another choice, and encourage manufacturers to make the entire process non-visually accessible. NNELS will continue to advocate alongside organizations around the world until blind and low vision users are able to perform rapid tests and access the results fully and independently for ensured privacy and autonomy.
You can find the download links to our alternate formats, including EPUB3 and BRF (Electronic Braille) on the COVID-19 Rapid Testing Instructions page.
For more resources, visit our COVID-19: Accessible Information page.