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State partnership aims to help visually impaired Ohioans with COVID-19 testing

COVID-19 tests
Posted at 10:06 PM, Dec 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-11 08:18:18-05

CLEVELAND, Ohio — There are over 280,000 visually impaired Ohioans according to the Ohio Department of Health and Allison Meloy is one of them, she said navigating COVID-19 while being blind is tough.

“There was at least one time that I remember I had to have a family member assist me with taking the [COVID] test, for me that was a very nerve-wracking experience because I didn’t want to potentially expose them had I turned out to be covid positive,” said Meloy.

Luckily a new state partnership with the app, Be My Eyes, aims to level the playing field.

“It’s life-changing and potentially lifesaving,” said Meloy.

The app pairs visually impaired users with a volunteer via video chat who helps them complete visual tasks or answer questions.

This first-of-its-kind partnership with the Ohio Department of Health, pairs users with a specialized pharmacy that aids the user via video chat with a COVID-19 test.

“Those of us who are blind or visually impaired, experience a lot of challenges not only in administering an at-home COVID-19 test but also interpreting the results, it’s really near to impossible,” said Meloy.

After downloading the app you go to the specialized help section and select the Ohio COVID-19 testing assistance tab.

During business hours you can call the pharmacy, to get help with your test, but hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“It’s super important because we want to make sure that everybody in the state of Ohio no matter where they're located or what challenges they might be facing has access to resources to keep themselves safe,” said Mark Hamlin with the Ohio Department of Health.

Hamlin works with the Ohio Department of Health and tells me the partnership is only about two weeks old.

“We’re gearing up on the holidays right now and lots of people are getting together with family and friends,” said Hamlin. “Testing is a great way for people to know it’s safe for them to be with their family.”

“This is where technology really becomes the great equalizer for those of us who are blind or visually impaired,” said Meloy.

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