PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — CVS Pharmacy has reached a settlement with federal prosecutors that will ensure the company’s online vaccination scheduling portal remains fully accessible to people with disabilities, officials said Monday.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Rhode Island alleged the company, which operates nearly 10,000 retail pharmacies nationwide, was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act because the portal was not accessible to people who use screen reader software designed for the visually impaired, and to those who have difficulty using a mouse.
For example, a federal investigation found that the types of vaccine appointments offered, including COVID-19, influenza and pneumonia, were not read to screen reader users, prosecutors said.
Also, on the page where users can schedule an appointment time, screen reader users were told that all available times were checked, even though the user had not made a selection, prosecutors said.
Additionally, people who used the tab key instead of a mouse to navigate websites were not able to navigate past a request for insurance information, prosecutors said.
“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,” U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island Zachary Cunha said in a statement. “This office is committed to vigorously enforcing the ADA to eliminate unnecessary barriers that stand in the way of lifesaving care.”
There was no admission of wrongdoing by CVS in the agreement.
Woonsocket-based CVS Pharmacy, a division of CVS Health, has agreed to make sure that its vaccination scheduling portal complies with industry guidelines for making online information accessible to users with disabilities, and to regularly test the website and quickly fix any problems that arise.
“We’re committed to supporting the health of our communities, which includes making COVID-19 vaccinations accessible for all eligible patients,” CVS Pharmacy said in a statement. “Our digital scheduling tool is frequently updated and enhanced to provide an equitable and optimal experience for users and we strive to ensure that it continues to provide a seamless experience for people with disabilities and to address any accessibility issues that may arise.”