May 12, 2022
Source: U.S. Department of Justice
Ensuring web access for people with disabilities through enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) remains a top priority for the Department of Justice. As businesses and state and local governments increasingly rely on websites to offer their goods, services, and programs, it is especially important that the online world is usable by all people, regardless of disability.
People with disabilities may navigate the web in different ways. For example, people whose disabilities affect their ability to grasp may use their keyboard instead of a mouse to move through websites. People who are blind may use screen readers, which are devices that speak the text that appears on a screen.
Barriers on websites may make it difficult or impossible for people with disabilities to use websites in the way they need to, such as by using the “tab” key to advance through a form, or having screen readers accurately relay content on the screen. But these barriers can be prevented or removed so that websites are accessible to people with disabilities. One critical way in which web accessibility barriers have affected people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic is the ability to get information about and schedule vaccinations. Websites have become a primary means of providing this information and offering vaccination appointments.
The ADA requires that businesses provide people with disabilities full and equal enjoyment of their goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations, including those offered through the web. Similarly, state and local governments must not discriminate based on disability in their programs, services, or activities, including those offered the web. Businesses and state and local governments must also ensure that they communicate effectively with people with disabilities.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department has entered into a number of settlement agreements with grocery, supermarket, and pharmacy businesses to remove barriers preventing people with certain disabilities from getting information about COVID-19 vaccinations and booking their vaccination appointments online. The Department reached agreements with the following companies:
These agreements address barriers that limited people with disabilities in using vaccine scheduling websites, such as required information (like first and last names, birthdates, and zip codes) not being “read” to users of screen readers, and available vaccination times not being available to “select” by people using keyboards. The agreements require that the vaccine websites in question meet certain accessibility standards, regular testing of the pages of the websites that include vaccine scheduling and information about the COVID-19 vaccine, and rapid remediation of any problems that keep people with disabilities from being able to use these pages. Because vaccines are potentially life-saving, this work highlights the critical importance of website accessibility for people with disabilities.
For more information on the Civil Rights Division, please visit www.justice.gov/crt. For more information on the ADA, please call the department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800- 514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or visit www.ada.gov. ADA complaints may be filed online at www.ada.gov/complaint. For more information about the Disability Rights Section, please visit https://www.justice.gov/crt/disability-rights-section.
News source: ada.gov/fact_sheet_vaccine_website_enforcement.pdf