Tips for blind and low vision users of the Ellume COVID-19 tests

The Ellume COVID-19 home test was found by blind users to be more accessible than the other at-home tests currently available. The test was not created specifically for blind users, and it is not perfectly accessible, but blind users have found that they could use this test independently.

Some of the app functions, parts of the test itself, and portions of the instructions have created challenges users have had to navigate around. Based on the experiences people have shared -- and their suggestions for addressing some of the challenges --  we have compiled these supplemental instructions to help people who are blind or who have low vision use the Ellume COVID-19 home test. 

We recommend reading through these supplemental instructions before you begin the steps for using the test.

Please note: These supplemental instructions do not take the place of the manufacturer instructions. These are intended to augment the manufacturer instructions and clarify steps that otherwise would require visual cues or that otherwise may be difficult for a blind or low-vision user to execute. (The manufacturer’s step-by-step instructions are available in the Ellume app.)

Special thanks to the National Federation of the Blind, who gave us permission to publish their review of the Ellume test, which walks through the process of using the test from beginning to end.  

Getting Started

Get the App:  Download the app to your smartphone from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. The name of the app is "Ellume COVID-19 Home Test."  Answer the questions in the app to to select the right video instructions for you.  The NFB review notes a few issues with the apps:

  • Android: That the back button is unlabeled throughout the process
  • iOS: There are several issues with the iOS app:
    • The app jumps focus randomly back up the screen after you click past the continue button
    • Each test field has a phantom unlabeled field after it.  Just ignore the unlabeled fields. 
    • The menu button is unlabeled on the main screen.
    • There is a duplicate unlabeled button which starts the test.
    • Flicking past the end of the permissions screen causes focus to jump back to the previous item on the screen resulting in a loop.
    • The button to replay the info video has extra text.
    • The "next" button during the test is labeled "connected."

Opening the Box and Getting the Test Ready

  • The box is lightweight cardboard. The top is held close with a single circular sticker on one of the wide edges of the top. The sticker may be peeled off or cut to open the box. 
  • There should be six things in the box. Note - do not open these items until you are ready to take the test. 
    • Instructions and a quick-start guide: These are two separate folded papers
    • The analyzer: This is an oblong, foil-wrapped package; you can feel a solid object inside. It is the narrower of the two foil-wrapped items in the package. (Approximately 1.5" wide and 6" long).  You can open this from either end. If it is difficult to tear open, you could use scissors to cut either end just inside the crimped edge without fear of damaging the object inside. Inside, you will find the analyzer, which is a rectangular plastic stick with a round, slightly recessed rubber button at one end and a small open well at the other end.  
    • The dropper: This is also a foil pouch. You can feel an object inside with solid, but non-uniform edges. This package is approximately 2.75" wide and just over 5" long. You also can open this from either end or use scissors to cut either end just inside the crimped edge. Inside is a plastic rectangular tray holding the dropper, which is a hard plastic object with one threaded end. The tray also may include a small package of dessicant -- this is not needed for the test.  
    • Nasal swab: This is in a plastic package with a paper cover. It's about 3" long and just under 2" wide. The plastic portion has two sections. The smaller section encloses the swab itself -- be careful not to touch the swab when opening the package. To open, hold the package with the paper side facing up and the small section of the plastic package facing away from you.  Open by pulling the tab at the top right hand corner toward you. The nasal swab may need a bit of a tap to free from its plastic bubble. The swab has three parts. At one end is a hard plastic section with a lid that flips open - you can feel the hinge on one side and a slight, smooth depression on the other side. At the other end is a one-inch swab tip. In between is a soft, removable rubber adapter for use with children.   
    • Processing fluid: This is a very small plastic capsule -- it is easy to miss in the box. It is about 2" long and half an inch wide. One end is a flat, smooth rectangle. The other end is triangular and crimped. Between the two ends is a tube. You'll open this by twisting the triangular end off, but do not do this until you are ready to use the fluid. 

Take the test

  • Watch the instruction video in the app.
    • Do not worry about remembering everything -- after the video, the app will provide step-by-step instructions that you can follow at your own pace.
    • Additional note for people who use a braille display:  The video will not render characters while playing. However, the text of the step-by-step test instructions that follow the video will be legible on your assistive technology.
  • Follow the instructions for pairing the analyzer to your phone. The instructions tell you to watch for flashing and solid lights -- just hold the button on the analyzer for a few seconds and let go. Once you have paired successfully, the app gives you a confirmation message. 
  • Next, place the dropper on a flat surface with the threaded, open end facing up.
  • Hold the processing fluid capsule by the rectangular end with one hand. With the other, twist off the triangular end. 
  • Empty the processing fluid capsule into the open end of the dropper -- you will need to squeeze it.  
  • Remove the child adapter from the nasal swab. Feel for the slit cut into the adapter and pull away from the slit.
  • Follow the instructions for collecting the sample.
  • Insert the swab into the dropper and screw it closed.
  • Open the flip top on the swab. 
  • Squeeze at least five drops of the fluid into the port in the analyzer. You can insert the dropper tip into the hole and rest it against the analyzer to ensure you are lined up properly -- the fluid doesn't leave the dropper until you squeeze. Squeeze the dropper at least seven or eight times -- or even more -- to ensure enough liquid is dispensed into the analyzer. (Ellume's customer service line confirmed that adding more than five will not affect the test. In fact, you can keep squeezing the dropper until you hear air escaping. On the other hand, If you do not add enough fluid, the test will not work.) 

Need more assistance?

The trained staff at the Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) may be able to help!  To reach DIAL, call 888-677-1199 or start a chat (Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern), or email DIAL@usaginganddisability.org.


Last modified on 08/01/2022


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