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CVS settles with DOJ to make COVID-19 portal more accessible

April 11 (UPI) -- The health and pharmaceutical retailing giant CVS on Monday settled with the Justice Department in an agreement to make its online COVID-19 portal for booking vaccination appointments more accessible to people with disabilities.

The CVS website for registering for COVID-19 vaccines, as well as other illnesses like the flu, were not accessible to people who use screen reader software or have trouble using a mouse, the Justice Department said.

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The Justice Department said that parts of the site were not read audibly by screen readers and that some users were told all times had been selected when no selections had been made, preventing them from scheduling appointments.

CVS noted in the agreement that the company fully cooperated with the Justice Department during the process and denied that it had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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"CVS represents that it has been making significant investments in digital accessibility for many years, including the accessibility of the website, its vaccine registration portal and other vaccine content," the agreement reads.

The company noted that it has about 100 employees on its digital accessibility team, of which approximately 40% have vision, hearing, mobility or cognitive disabilities.

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"CVS further represents that it has engaged in extensive efforts to provide access to COVID-19 vaccines to individuals who are unable to make a vaccine appointment online for any reason, including, but not limited to, walk-in appointments and scheduling by telephone," the agreement reads.

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The company added that it has delivered over 49 million COVID-19 vaccine doses.

"Now more than ever, we must ensure web accessibility for people with disabilities seeking access to critical needs and services," said Kristen Clarke, the assistant attorney general 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 lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines. We will continue to work towards the ADA's promise of equal access during the ongoing global pandemic."

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Under the terms of the agreement, CVS will conform web content about the COVID-19 vaccine to a set of voluntary industry guidelines and regularly test the pages of its COVID-19 pages to quickly fix any problems that keep people with disabilities from using them.

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