The Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island today announced a settlement agreement with CVS Pharmacy Inc., under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that will eliminate barriers preventing people with certain disabilities from getting information about COVID-19 vaccinations and booking vaccination appointments online. CVS is the country’s largest retail pharmacy, with nearly 10,000 locations. Today’s resolution is the department’s fifth agreement on the critical issue of COVID-19 vaccination website accessibility, following settlement announcements with Rite Aid Corporation, Hy-Vee Inc., The Kroger Co. and Meijer Inc.
The department found that CVS’s COVID-19 vaccine registration portal, currently located at https://www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine, was not accessible to people with certain disabilities, including those who use screen reader software or have trouble using a mouse. For instance, the types of vaccine appointments offered (which included influenza, pneumonia, and others, in addition to the COVID-19 vaccine) were not read audibly to screen reader users at the beginning of the scheduling process. Further, on the page where users pick a time for their appointment, screen reader users were told that all available times were “checked,” even though the user had not made any selection. Additionally, people who use the “Tab” key instead of a mouse to navigate websites were not able to navigate past a request for insurance information in the registration process.
“Now more than ever, we must ensure web accessibility for people with disabilities seeking access to critical needs and services,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “We are working aggressively to identify and remove barriers that prevent people with disabilities from privately and independently securing potentially life-saving COVID-19 vaccines. We will continue to work towards the ADA’s promise of equal access during the ongoing global pandemic.”
“While web accessibility is always important, when it comes to critical health services like COVID-19 vaccination, making sure that everyone — regardless of disability — can access information and care is essential,” said U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Cunha for the District of Rhode Island. “This office is committed to vigorously enforcing the ADA to eliminate unnecessary barriers that stand in the way of lifesaving care.”
Under today’s settlement, CVS will conform web content about the COVID-19 vaccine, including the forms for scheduling an appointment to get the vaccine, to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), Version 2.1, Level AA. WCAG is a set of voluntary industry guidelines for making information on a website accessible to users with disabilities. CVS also must regularly test the pages of its website that include vaccine scheduling and information about the COVID-19 vaccine, and quickly fix any problems that keep people with disabilities from being able to use these pages.
This matter was handled jointly by the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island. Title III of the ADA requires public accommodations like drugstores to provide individuals with disabilities with full and equal enjoyment of goods and services, such as vaccines. The ADA also requires public accommodations to ensure effective communication with people with disabilities, including by using auxiliary aids and services like accessible technology.
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. Anyone in the District of Rhode Island may also report civil rights violations directly to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island at https://www.justice.gov/usao-ri-civil-rights-enforcement or (401) 709-5000.