Armed with Accessibility: How CDC Foundation and Georgia Tech Plan to Battle COVID
More than 61 million Americans navigate life with a disability, and to abide by health and public safety orders during a pandemic, they require adequate access and support at home, work, school, their community, and while traveling. To that end, the CDC Foundation awarded a contract to the Center for Inclusive Design and Innovation (CIDI) at Georgia Institute of Technology to help assess, develop, and produce accessible emergency materials in response to COVID-19.
“A disproportionate number of people being affected and dying of COVID-19 are people with disabilities,” says Liz Persaud of Georgia Tech’s CIDI and co-principal investigator on the project, who also lives with a physical disability.
As an avid assistive technology user, Liz relies on the power of technology and accessibility to accomplish her work, including overseeing training, education and dissemination of materials and resources with the CDC Foundation project. “I know of a number of people with disabilities who have been affected by COVID-19, and part of it is not being able to get the message out about safety precautions and personal protective equipment (PPE), especially in an accessible manner. There’s a huge population of people that are already marginalized, missing out and we can do better.”
CIDI will develop accessible content for the CDC Foundation in a wide range of alternate formats, including braille and tactile documents, accessibility of websites and applications, closed captioning of videos, and the use of plain language for individuals with low literacy skills due to a number of factors.
“Like so many groups, the COVID-19 pandemic is creating dangers and hardships on people living with disabilities,” said Judy Monroe, MD, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “To help address some of the challenges being faced by people in this community, we are pleased to support the work of the team at CIDI and their partners working to create accessible emergency materials. Importantly, we believe this project can inform serving this community during future public health threats as well.”