If you are a service provider at a COVID-19 vaccination location, the following recommendations serve to help you provide the support that people with disabilities may need when they receive vaccines. These tips are not comprehensive but serve as a thought-starter and a step toward more accessible practices.
Use Accessible Technology
Ensure that all people with disabilities can use websites and other tools to schedule appointments and complete other tasks necessary to receive vaccines. This may include making sure patients in the clinic community have reliable internet connections and that youwebsite is accessible to people who use screen readers or other assistive technologies to access information online. You should also have phone registration for those who do not have access to online appointment tools.
Design Your Clinic to Accommodate Physical and Sensory Needs
Vaccination locations should consider specific accommodations for people who use wheelchairs, walkers, or other devicesparking spaces, accessible restrooms, that assist mobility. This includes having accessible and making sure your location has space to allow for appropriate social distancing, including space for caregivers and service animals.
People with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including those with autism, may need sensory-related accommodations. This may include designating areas with minimal lights, sounds, and smells, as well as providing space in your clinic away from crowded lines or waiting areas.
Provide Patient-Centered Communications and Interpretation
Since disabilities come in many forms, including some that may not be visible, it is important to ask each person about their own unique needs and preferences. Instructions should be clear and simple. Consider using pictures, gestures, and objects that can help illustrate words and instructions (For example: Point to your ID picture as you say who you are and point to any protective equipment as you speak about it.).
Also, you may need to have qualified interpreters for people who speak languages other than English or for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing and communicate using American Sign Language (ASL). If you can’t get an interpreter, you can use a video remote interpreting (VRI) service, which works similarly to FaceTime or Skype. For ASL support, FEMA offers interpretation service that can be accessed with a smartphone. Learn more online at www.femavri.com.