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People with disabilities face roadblocks that prevent them from getting the COVID-19 vaccine

“I went looking for the website to register for COVID-19 vaccinations in Tyler, and couldn't find it,” said Michael Hingson, who is blind.

TYLER, Texas — "350 new websites are created every minute which amounts to more than 500,000," says Michael Hingson citing a 2019 study. He's the Chief Vision Officer for a web accessibility platform called AccessiBe.

He’s also completely blind and says that less than 2% of these sites are disability friendly.

“Let's say you are a person with epilepsy, and you go to a website and they want to attract your attention to things on that site. Usually it's blinking," he said. "If you are a person with epilepsy that can cause seizures. And so again, no one thinks about those things but those are issues.”

To put this issue into perspective for East Texas, Hingson added, “I went looking for the website to register for COVID-19 vaccinations in Tyler, and couldn't find it."

He did find the Texas Department of State Health Services website and decided to an accessibility audit to see if it adhered to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

The results? Non-compliant.  

He said, "The bottom line is we get left out. And that has been extremely true in the COVID-19 world, because everyone has just put these sites together very quickly. And if accessibility is thought about, it's an afterthought.”

He says he wants better for the more than 20% of Americans living with a disability.

“We may not see, we may not stand, we may not walk, we may not hear, we may have a cognitive issue of some sort. But that doesn't make us less able to be part of society," he said.

To make sure our most vulnerable populations don't get left behind, Hingson said making sites more accessible could be as simple as adding lines of code to a website’s makeup. He also said this requires trainings that just aren’t being prioritized. 

If you’d like to check out a website’s accessibility compliance. you can do so for free here.