CVS to update COVID-19 online portal for people with disabilities, DOJ says

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 26: A man wearing masks walks past a CVS Pharmacy where a "Free flue shots here" sign is displayed as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on August 26,

The Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island announced it’ll be easier for people with disabilities to register for a COVID-19 vaccine with CVS Pharmacy online. 

The department announced a settlement with the company to eliminate barriers that prevented certain disabled customers from getting information about COVID-19 vaccines and booking an appointment online. 

Federal officials said they found CVS’s COVID-19 vaccine registration portal was not accessible to people who use screen reader software or have trouble using a mouse. 

RELATED: People with disabilities face more barriers accessing COVID-19 vaccine, CDC data shows

Officials said the types of vaccine appointments offered were not read audibly to screen reader users at the beginning of the scheduling process. They also pointed out 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.

Under the settlement, CVS will change its web content to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). WCAG is a set of voluntary industry guidelines for making information on a website accessible to users with disabilities. 

CVS also agreed the company will 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.

"Now more than ever, we must ensure web accessibility for people with disabilities seeking access to critical needs and services," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a news release. "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."

The Justice Department said they have previously reached similar settlements with Rite Aid Corporation, Hy-Vee Inc., The Kroger Co. and Meijer Inc.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.