Covid-19 rapid-test support service launched for partially sighted people

Authorities said rapid testing continues to play a vital role in combating the spread of the virus.

The UKHSA launched the service to help make testing more accessible (PA)
The UKHSA launched the service to help make testing more accessible (PA)

Partially sighted people taking Covid-19 lateral flow tests will be able to get help from a new app and video-call service.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) launched the service to help make testing more accessible.

The app – called Be My Eyes – connects people with low to moderate vision with agents from 119 through a live video call.

This important new service will help make it easier for partially sighted people to use rapid tests in the comfort of their own home

UKHSA chief executive Dame Jenny Harries

Users can get live video assistance from NHS Test and Trace staff in helping them with how to order tests, use tests and register their test results.

The service has been launched following an ongoing partnership between UKHSA and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), the Macular Society, Thomas Pocklington Trust, Visionary and the Be My Eyes app.

The UKHSA said it has carried out trials with volunteers with differing levels of vision to understand the changes that would have the most impact to testing accessibility.

Other tools are also being introduced for partially sighted people ordering home test kits, including instructions in braille, audio and large print, and an RNIB information line providing a recorded version of the instructions.

UKHSA chief executive Dame Jenny Harries said rapid testing continues to play a vital role in combating the spread of the virus, adding: “This important new service will help make it easier for partially sighted people to use rapid tests in the comfort of their own home.”

Mike Wordingham, policy officer for the RNIB, said: “Since early on in the pandemic, RNIB has been working with DHSC to improve the accessibility of at-home tests with more than 100 blind and partially sighted people involved in exploring solutions.

“We are pleased the Be My Eyes app will enable thousands more people with sight loss to connect with live video assistance to carry out tests as it is vital this happens to enable people to keep themselves and their communities safe.

“We look forward to continuing the work to ensure testing is made accessible to all, including through the provision of the new instructions in braille, audio and large print formats.”

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