Washington, D.C., February 24 – Today, the Biden-Harris Administration released a fact sheet on their work addressing the intersection of the COVID-19 pandemic and the disability community. Here is some of the key information they shared:
Ensuring Accessible Testing for All Americans
Millions of new tests have been manufactured by the National Institutes of Health’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx®) Tech Program. However, as documented by key advocates, the packaging, instructions, and design of the diagnostic devices have made it challenging for people with disabilities to use them independently. The NIH RADx® Tech Program is now reviewing elements of the kits that may be used without assistance. The Administration is actively encouraging collaboration between federal agencies and community organizations to make more tests fully accessible.
Emphasizing Accessibility For Rapid Test Manufacturers
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has charged manufactures of over-the-counter rapid antigen and point-of-care COVID-19 tests with providing details on how accessible their products are currently. The request for information (RFI) asks that all users be considered—including those who are blind or have low vision; have physical, cognitive, or other disabilities; and persons who need non-English or plain language accommodations. Additionally, the RFI instructs manufacturers to indicate how they will go about improving accessibility for these groups. The RFI will influence how investments are made moving forward.
New Guidance To Protect Vulnerable Individuals
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has made an update to their list of medical conditions that make some individuals more vulnerable to COVID-19 illness, based on the latest science. The update now includes people with disabilities. The CDC has also shared a tool for individuals who use American Sign Language (ASL) that describes how to read positive self-test results. Ensuring that all individuals are able to access testing could help diminish the spread of COVID-19.
Philip Kahn-Pauli, RespectAbility’s Policy and Practices Director, complements the administration on their ongoing efforts. “The Biden-Harris administration continues to model great leadership and a commitment to Americans with disabilities as we continue to navigate this pandemic. At the same time, it is fair to recognize that there are limited numbers of self-identified leaders with disabilities in senior administration roles, and delays in the Senate have left many key disability-related positions vacant.”
Read more about RespectAbility and our work on COVID-19 issues that relate to those with disabilities.