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Justice Dept. reaches agreements with NY state, counties to improve accessibility to vax sites for vision-impaired

October 6, 2021 By Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, on Tuesday announced agreements pursuant to Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act with five New York State and local government agencies to fix accessibility barriers for people with visual impairments on their COVID-19 vaccination websites.

Pursuant to Title II of the ADA, the United States Attorney’s Office investigated the vaccination websites for New York State’s Department of Health, the City of New York’s Department of Health, New York City Health + Hospitals, Nassau County, and Suffolk County.

As a result of this review, the United States Attorney’s Office identified multiple areas where text was difficult to read for visually impaired people. On some of the websites, individuals with visual impairments using screen readers were prevented from identifying what steps they needed to take to complete forms, or from readily navigating the websites. On other websites, lettering was set against a background causing a low contrast.

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Following this investigation, the New York State’s Department of Health, the City of New York’s Department of Health, New York City Health + Hospitals, Nassau County, and Suffolk County have now entered into written agreements with the United States Attorney’s Office certifying that they have corrected the identified problems. These government entities further committed to maintaining that their COVID-19 vaccination websites will be accessible for people with visual impairments.

“In the midst of the ongoing global pandemic, people with vision impairments must be able to access information about how and where to obtain COVID-19 vaccinations,” stated Acting United States Attorney Kasulis. “Our office thanks the New York State Department of Health, the City of New York, New York Health + Hospitals, and Nassau and Suffolk counties for their cooperation in complying with the requirements of the ADA and for ensuring that these vital websites are accessible to the visually impaired.”

The United States Attorney’s Office acknowledges the assistance of WebAIM, a nonprofit web accessibility organization based at the Institute for Disability Research, Policy, and Practice at Utah State University, which provided information on accessibility issues on the websites addressed in the agreements announced today.

The government’s review was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Edward K. Newman. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York recently announced a Civil Rights Team in the Office’s Civil Division.  The Civil Rights Team focuses on protecting the rights of the most vulnerable residents of the Eastern District of New York.  The office has also a webpage, located at https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny/civil-rights, dedicated to Civil Rights Enforcement, which highlights the work of the office and provides links to complaint forms and to other civil rights resources.

 


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