Applause Partners with Non-Profit for COVID-19 Contact-Tracing App

Dan Cagen Dan Cagen
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PathCheck Foundation’s commitment to bringing contact tracing to everyone includes an audit for digital accessibility

Contact tracing is one of the strongest methods to identify and eliminate the spread of COVID-19. PathCheck Foundation is committed to making contact tracing available to more communities, which will help individuals understand their risk for COVID-19 exposure.

Founded at MIT, PathCheck Foundation is a non-profit organization made up of volunteers dedicated to combating the coronavirus. PathCheck Foundation leveraged technologies in a safe, open and privacy-preserving manner to develop a mobile app for contact tracing, called Safe Places. Users of the Safe Places app can opt in to share their location with the app, which will send a push notification when they come in contact with an individual who has tested positive.

In addition, when users test positive, they can choose to share their location data from the previous two weeks to a local health authority, which can contact the user with next steps medically.

Earlier this year, Applause partnered with PathCheck Foundation to provide free software testing and ensure the Safe Places app provides accessible experiences to all users.

“Contact tracing requires users to participate and buy in on an ongoing basis,” said PathCheck Foundation CTO Sam Zimmerman. “Therefore, it is critical for the PathCheck Foundation app to work for every user every time, including their first experience. Accessibility is critical. Everyone, no matter any disabilities they may have, must be able to use the app. Applause’s accessibility experts helped us identify ways to make the app more accessible for everyone, including people with disabilities.”

Applause partnered with PathCheck Foundation to provide free software testing and ensure the Safe Places contact-tracing app provides accessible experiences to all users.

Applause conducted accessibility audits on the Safe Places contact-tracing app, including on iOS and Android devices. Testing on real devices, Applause’s testers identified critical errors with keyboard navigation and screen reader compatibility. For example, an Applause accessibility tester found an error in which the screen reader failed to alert the user that new options appeared after clicking on an icon; this error would fail a WCAG 2.1 checkpoint. With this specific finding, PathCheck Foundation’s engineering team could update the app to ensure that a user who needs a screen reader could leverage the contact-tracing app.

Applause continues to provide testing for PathCheck Foundation as the app launches in new areas. Applause also provided testing for the Israeli Ministry of Health’s contact-tracing app earlier this year, as well as various COVID-19 related innovations for healthcare providers Banner Health and Dignity Health.

“With the largest global community of software testing professionals who are ready to test apps in the real world at a moment’s notice, we are happy to help in the fight against COVID-19,” said Heather Levy Sigel, Applause’s VP of Strategic Programs. “It’s been gratifying to play a role in the development of PathCheck Foundation’s contact-tracing app this year. As organizations continue to innovate new ways to combat the coronavirus and community spread through the use of technology, we here at Applause are standing by and ready to support the testing that these applications need.”

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