Accessibility Kits help make vaccination a ‘possible and positive’ experience for all

Oregon Health Authority wants to make vaccination events accessible for everyone. To that end, OHA has developed a set of tools that community partners can use to support communication and access to information for people with disabilities, those who primarily use a language other than English and anyone who could benefit from accommodations at vaccination sites.

Accessibility kits include amplifiers, clear masks, a small whiteboard, flashlights, magnifying glasses, visual communication cards and more.

Inspired by a prototype from OHSU and in partnership with FEMA’s Disability Integration Team, the Accessibility Team in the COVID-19 Rapid Response Unit has been working hard to develop and roll out these kits, which are currently being used by partners throughout the state.

The Accessibility Kits include simple tools that can help people access services, such as amplifiers, clear masks, a small whiteboard, flashlights, magnifying glasses and visual communication cards. They also come with information for accessing OHA’s telephonic interpretation services, which includes video remote ASL.

“We have had two primary goals in developing these kits: to help increase awareness about accessibility and the need to make vaccination events more accessible, and to give people the tools they need so that getting vaccinated is both possible and positive,” said Accessibility Team Lead Kristen Darmody. ​​​​​​​

One partner, Portland Open Bible Church, used an Accessibility Kit at an event and found that “it was great to have those items.” Peace Corps teams are using kits in their outreach activities and have found them especially helpful for language access.

Partners can also request a loan of an iPhone to access telephonic interpretation when they aren’t able to offer in-person interpretation since language needs can’t always be anticipated. The kits will remain permanently in the community and may be used in the future for other responses.

“I think this is a great example of how our pandemic response and vaccination efforts can help shift systems and create a more accessible and equitable culture moving forward,” said Darmody.