Justice Department Secures Settlement With Rite Aid Corporation To Make Its Online Covid-19 Vaccine Portal Accessible To Individuals With Disabilities
HARRISBURG - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and the Justice Department announced an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) settlement agreement with Rite Aid Corporation (Rite Aid) to ensure that people with disabilities can get information about COVID-19 vaccinations and book their vaccinations online. Rite Aid is a publicly owned national drug store chain with its headquarters located in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.
According to Acting United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, a department compliance review discovered that individuals with vision and mobility impairments could not access a portion of Rite Aid’s website known as the COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Portal, currently located at https://www.riteaid.com/covid-19. For example, those who use screen reader software and those who have difficulty using a mouse could not successfully select a date and time for their appointment and were unable to make some “yes” or “no” selections during the appointment registration process.
Title III of the ADA requires public accommodations like drugstores and grocery stores to provide individuals with disabilities with full and equal enjoyment of goods and services. The ADA also requires public accommodations to provide effective communication with people with disabilities, including through auxiliary aids and services like accessible technology.
Under the terms of this agreement, within 30 days, Rite Aid must conform its online COVID-19 vaccine content to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), Version 2.1, Level AA. WCAG is a set of industry guidelines for making information on websites accessible to users with disabilities. Rite Aid will also have to regularly test and quickly correct any issues with its COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Portal for the agreement’s 30-month duration.
“As technology increases, the internet is where people gain access to information about COVID-19 vaccines and schedule a vaccination appointment. Individuals with disabilities, including those with visual impairments and those who cannot use a mouse, must be given the same access to that information and the ease of scheduling appointments online,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Brandler. “Since the beginning of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, private companies have partnered with the United States. Today, with the help of Rite Aid, we make great strides in that continuing partnership by ensuring individuals with disabilities have the ability to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination independently and privately.”
“Equal access to healthcare is at the heart of the rights guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the department’s Civil Rights Division. “As the nation continues its response to the COVID-19 pandemic—through booster shots, vaccinations for children under 12, and ongoing outreach to those still in need of initial doses—people with disabilities must be able to schedule potentially lifesaving vaccine appointments as easily as people without disabilities can.”
The ADA authorizes the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to undertake investigations and periodic reviews of covered establishments. For more information on the ADA, please call the department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or visit www.ada.gov. Members of the public may report possible civil rights violations at https://civilrights.justice.gov/report/. Anyone in the Middle District of Pennsylvania may also report civil rights violations to the Civil Rights Coordinator of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania by calling 717-614-4911 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This case was handled jointly by Assistant United States Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania Michael J. Butler, and attorneys for the Disability Rights Section of the Department’s Civil Rights Division Anne Langford and Joy Welan.