Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Health
628. To ask the Minister for Health if the Covid-19 contact tracing application due to be launched shortly will be accessible to visually impaired persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11165/20]
Contact tracing operations are at the centre of the health service response to Covid-19 and protecting our communities in the phases ahead. Key to effective contact tracing is the capacity to get quick and comprehensive notification to all close contacts of people infected with Covid-19. The Covid Tracker app has been developed to complement our current arrangements and help improve the speed and comprehensiveness of contact tracing. It is core to the purposes of the app that it be as accessible as possible to the whole population (aged 16 and over).
The primary purpose of the app is to enable the health services to improve the speed and effectiveness of contact tracing. Use of the app will provide for more comprehensive alerting of close contacts of those that have become infected than is currently possible based on interviews of those infected and memory recall. In addition, the app permits citizens to anonymously report symptoms in real-time. The purpose of the symptom tracker is to assist the health services in mapping, predicting and ultimately preventing the spread of Covid-19. The app will also provide direct access to authoritative news, the purpose of which is to ensure that information and up-to-date guidance in relation to Covid-19 is accessible.
The development team has engaged with the National Council for the Blind Ireland (NCBI) and contracted them to carry out an assessment of the app for those with visual impairments. The team are addressing issues arising from that assessment and in order of priority, so that version 1 of the app will be functional for use by those with visual and physical challenges. Further enhancements will be addressed in subsequent releases of the app.