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Online Dashboard Highlights Extra Vaccine Hurdles For Disabled Persons

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Kara Ayers speaks to the government's COVID-19 health equity task force on Friday.

Updated March 26 at 9:45 a.m.

A Cincinnati Children's assistant professor says only 15 of 90 state-run websites with vaccine information are configured for use by visually impaired people. Kara Ayers, Ph.D., says that's just one hurdle facing people with disabilities who try to sign up for a vaccine appointment.

Ayers and her team built an online tool to help people with disabilities navigate the vaccine process. She is scheduled to speak to the president's COVID-19 health equity task force. The event originally planned for March 26 is postponed and will be rescheduled, according to a Children's spokeswoman.

"Even the way states define disability differed. Somebody could live just a few miles away but the state line could determine several months difference between when they might be eligible for a vaccine," she says.

Ayers works with the Center for Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities and the UC Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. That work, along with the Johns Hopkins Disability Health Research Center, led to a dashboard which lists the rules across the country.

Ayers says the idea is to clarify when someone can get vaccinated. "Not only did we hope they could learn when they would be eligible, but also they could take that information back to their state and say 'I really think we should look at the way this state has done it.' We've updated the dashboard every week and seen a lot of changes."

She says that shows people are listening.

Ayers says her message to the task force is that people with disabilities make up a diverse community, and they are more than just a health status and can bring great ideas for solutions.