Justice Department Secures Settlement With Meijer, Inc. To Make Its Online Covid-19 Vaccine Portal Accessible To Individuals With Disabilities

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          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan and the Justice Department announced an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) settlement agreement with Meijer, Inc. (Meijer) to eliminate barriers preventing people with certain disabilities from getting information about COVID-19 vaccinations and booking vaccination appointments online.  Meijer is a privately owned regional supermarket chain with stores located throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, and Wisconsin.  Meijer is headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

          Meijer’s COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Portal, currently located at https://clinic.meijer.com, was not accessible to people with certain disabilities, including those who use screen reader software or have a hard time using a mouse.  For instance, people who use the “Tab” key instead of a mouse to navigate websites could not proceed past the very first step of the vaccine registration process, because they could not select the button stating “click here to schedule an appointment.”  The Vaccine Registration Portal also did not always tell people who use screen readers what information they were supposed to put on scheduling forms, including their first and last names, birthdate, and zip code. 

          Title III of the ADA requires public accommodations, like grocery stores, to provide individuals with disabilities with full and equal enjoyment of goods and services, such as vaccines.  The ADA also requires public accommodations to ensure effective communication with people with disabilities, including through use of auxiliary aids and services like accessible technology.

          “Our office is dedicated to upholding the civil rights of all people in the United States, including those with disabilities.  Those rights include full and equal access to health information and medical care, such as COVID-19 vaccinations,” said U.S. Attorney Birge.  “This agreement reflects our ongoing commitment to enforcing the ADA, protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities, and supporting our nation’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

          Under the terms of this agreement, Meijer will conform web content about the COVID-19 vaccine, including the forms for scheduling an appointment to get the vaccine, to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), Version 2.1, Level AA.  WCAG is a set of voluntary industry guidelines for making information on a website accessible to users with disabilities.  Meijer also must regularly test the pages of its website that include vaccine scheduling and information about the COVID-19 vaccine, and quickly fix any problems that keep people with disabilities from being able to use these pages.

          “As our nation continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Justice Department will not allow members of the disability community to be left behind,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Individuals with disabilities are an important part of the fabric of our country, and it is critical that they have equal access to potentially life-saving vaccines.”

          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 Western District of Michigan may also report civil rights violations directly to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan by calling 616-808-2195 or emailing usamiw.civilrights@usdoj.gov.

          This matter was handled jointly by Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Laura A. Babinsky, and attorneys for the Disability Rights Section of the Department’s Civil Rights Division Anne Langford and Joy Welan.

          Please click this text to view the Meijer Settlement Agreement 2.2.22 (executed) document.

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