WebAIM contributed to an article authored by Kaiser Health News and republished in the LA Times regarding the accessibility barriers posed by vaccine registration pages in the US. Our automated WAVE analysis of vaccine information and registration web sites for all 50 state (plus DC) sites discovered that most sites may pose notable barriers to users with disabilities. All but 13 of the 94 pages tested had detectable accessibility issues.
On average the 94 state-level COVID-19 vaccine pages averaged 18.9 detectable errors. The most common error was low contrast text. Other common issues were images missing alternative text, empty links and buttons, and missing form input labels (text that would describe the purpose or function of form fields). While automated tools, such as WAVE, cannot detect all or even most accessibility issues, the issues detected tend to be highly impactful for users with disabilities. These potential barriers may be considered discriminatory and thus put the page owners at risk.
The accessibility of these pages is generally better than average home pages on the web, and a bit better than state .gov pages in general, but these vaccine pages provide critical health information and functionality. While the burden falls squarely on state departments of health and local health departments to ensure equitable access to vaccine information and registration pages, many of these entities have contracted with 3rd party systems to provide this information and functionality. Regardless of the source of these barriers, lack of accessibility of these pages has a significant impact on the aging and disabled populations that are most impacted by COVID-19.
UPDATE: On March 3, 2021 thirteen US Senators authored a letter inquiring about federal processes for better ensuring accessibility of COVID vaccine web sites.
In addition to accessibility, there are serious simple usability issues – eg entering your county or zip code and getting results that are 100’s of miles away, or getting no results at all.
It is a hot mess!