COLUMBUS – Ohio has worked closely with community partners to ensure access to at-home rapid COVID-19 testing over the course of the pandemic for all Ohioans. At-home COVID-19 tests have become the standard method of testing; however, individuals who are blind or have low vision face challenges self-administering these tests.
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) have partnered to identify a solution to support Ohioans who are blind or have low vision in self-administering at-home COVID-19 tests widely available through retail, pharmacy and grocery stores, community libraries, and local health departments.
“We are excited to be the first state in the country to partner with Be My Eyes and Accessible Pharmacy Services to help more than 280,000 Ohioans who are blind or have low vision receive the assistance they need to test for COVID-19, which is a critical first step to managing symptoms and seeking treatment if needed, and protecting their loved ones,” said Bruce Vanderhoff, MD, MBA, director of the Ohio Department of Health.
Starting this week, Ohio residents can call a state-sponsored support line through the Be My Eyes phone app to receive assistance taking any at-home COVID-19 test authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), by downloading the free Be My Eyes app for Apple or Android smartphones. Once on the app, the user should select “State of Ohio COVID Testing” and will be connected to an experienced customer support representative from Accessible Pharmacy Services, which has helped hundreds of Be My Eyes users to administer a variety of at-home medical tests. The customer support representative can help individuals:
– Read print information or instructions included in an at-home COVID-19 test.
– Provide step-by-step guidance while taking the test.
– Read the results of a completed test.
This service is available to receive calls Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
“We are pleased to provide and promote this important, free tool to our participants and stakeholders,” said Kevin L. Miller, Director of Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities. “Utilizing this assistive technology app helps Ohioans who are blind or have low vision overcome at-home COVID-19 testing barriers and have more equitable access to healthcare information.”
“The State of Ohio Department of Health is taking an unprecedented step in becoming the first United States government entity to address accessible COVID-19 testing support through our platform,” says Hans Jørgen Wiberg, Founder of Be My Eyes. “We are hopeful that other states will join Ohio in providing their constituents with a free, user-friendly solution to safeguarding their health.”
The purpose of this service is to help Ohioans who are blind or have low vision to independently self-administer COVID-19 tests. The service is not a telehealth session, and the Be My Eyes team will not provide healthcare advice.
“Our trained staff of experts provide empathetic and knowledgeable visual guidance to blind and low vision people experiencing a range of health-related accessibility challenges,” said Andy Burstein, CEO of Accessible Pharmacy Services. “We’re proud to be representing the State of Ohio by providing all Ohioans with a safe and reliable channel for at-home COVID-19 testing assistance.”
About Be My Eyes
Be My Eyes – is a free mobile app dedicated to one goal: to make the world more accessible for blind and low-vision people. Be My Eyes, established in 2015, utilizes video call technology and more than 6 million volunteers and 180 languages to provide help those who are blind or have low vision navigate any situation where a sighted individual can see for the blind person.
About Accessible Pharmacy Services
Accessible Pharmacy Services is a comprehensive, home delivery pharmacy service specializing in the needs of people who are blind, DeafBlind, and have low vision. They are the only provider of its kind and the largest blind-owned healthcare company in the country.
For more information on Ohio’s COVID-19 response, including information about vaccination, testing, and treatment, go to coronavirus.ohio.gov. For questions about how to protect yourself and your community from COVID-19, please contact the ODH COVID-19 call center at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634). ODH staff members operate the center Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.