By Janet Ingber, AccessWorld Author

If you are searching for accurate and accessible information about coronavirus (COVID-19), one option is to use Apple’s new COVID-19 app and website. These were created in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The app and website contain the same information.

The app is free and requires iOS 13.1 or later. At the top of the first screen in the app are logos for Apple and the CDC. Next is a heading, COVID-19 Screening Tool.

Under the heading is information about screening. Next is a button labeled Start Screening. Since there is no Forms option in the VoiceOver rotor, flick right to get to the button.

The test page has several graphics including a hand and a representation of someone taking their temperature. There is a confusing graphic labeled “checkmark circle fill image”. This is a graphic, not a check box.

Below this graphic is Apple’s disclaimer about using the screening tool. Next are buttons to select whether the test is for you or someone else.

After you make your selection, you are asked a series of questions. For each question, select the button or buttons which best describes your answer. Occasionally, I had to answer a question twice before the app went to the next screen. After the final question, there is a Submit button. A screen with recommendations will load. There is a Done button above the recommendations which will bring you back to the app’s home screen.

The next heading on the home screen is More Information. Under this heading are four categories:

  1. About COVID-19: An up-to-date rundown of the virus and its symptoms.
  2. What You Can Do: Information about social distancing, isolating from others, and more.
  3. COVID-19 Testing: Current guidance on who should be tested and what to expect from test results.
  4. Updates from Apple News: Fact-checked resources on the coronavirus.

Each category listing is followed by a button. The button loads a new screen with several sections. For example, the What You Can Do screen has information about washing your hands, social distancing, isolating from others, symptom monitoring, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. At the bottom of each section is a Learn More button. The final information on the page is Apple’s Commitment to Privacy.

The Apple COVID-19 website works well when using a screen reader. When using VoiceOver, Forms navigation in the VoiceOver Rotor works here. In addition, the screening test is easily accessible. Find it by either tabbing until you hear “start screening," or use your screen reader's form control command.

Questions and form controls are clearly labeled. As with the app, once the screening test is completed, recommendations are provided.

You will need to scroll down to get to the categories list. After each entry is a Learn More button that when activated, brings up all the information for that category on one screen. Navigate by headings if you do not want to read all the information for the category.

In a time when information overload is common and misinformation is rampant, having an reliable, accessible source for information on the Coronavirus is an invaluable tool.