Anyone who wants to register for a Covid 19 vaccination in the canton of Zurich has been able to do so via a new online platform for a few days. In a first step, the user registers there with his or her personal data and can then book an appointment as soon as the relevant group of people is approved for the vaccination, the canton writes in a message.
However, people with disabilities may not be able to use the zh.vacme.ch portal because it was not implemented in a barrier-free manner. The blind web accessibility consultant Daniele Corciulo criticizes this on Twitter.
@Canton Zurich It is a shame that the new Vacme-tool did not take sufficient account of the accessibility. It is not possible for blind people to fill out the questionnaire in the PDF and to derive the colors from it. Why is the process not in the app?
– Daniele Corciulo (@ Pianist_85) March 29, 2021
The sticking point: PDF
When asked, Corciulo admits that after trying for a long time he succeeded in registering for a vaccination, but: “It is obvious that the accessibility of this website was not consistently taken into account.” A blind visitor to the site can fill out the form. However, any input errors may not be displayed because they are not provided with the necessary semantic information.
The accessibility consultant locates the most serious problem in the first step of the registration: There the user is asked to carry out a self-assessment. The necessary information is currently stored in a non-accessible PDF document. A blind user cannot carry out the self-evaluation in this way, explains Corciulo.
The canton of Zurich has not yet responded to a request. In a message, however, the health department points out that you can also register for the Covid 19 vaccination by telephone.
How the PDF looks for a sighted person. (Source: Canton of Zurich)
How a blind person reads the self-assessment. (Source: Netzmedien)
Politician wants to act
Switzerland is lagging behind in terms of accessibility. Just last November, a study by the “Access for All” foundation showed that only a quarter of the local online shops are barrier-free.
“This finding alone is reason enough to put the issue of e-accessibility back on the political agenda,” writes Gerhard Andrey, National Councilor for the Greens and co-founder of the web agency Liip, on request. And when asked about the deficiencies in the vaccination registration portal, he comments that such examples are unfortunately still the rule rather than the exception – “And that’s why more binding is the order of the day.”
In an interpellation, Andrey is now demanding answers from the Federal Council. Specifically, he asks whether the executive branch is ready “in the form of a report to take stock of the accessibility of the websites and apps of the public sector as well as private companies and organizations”. He also asks about the measures to be taken to promote the digital implementation of official formats. Finally, he inquired about the Federal Council’s measures to make private providers responsible.
“It is obvious to me that there is a need for action. E-accessibility must become a matter of course, and I’m working on it,” Andrey wrote on request. His interpellation is only supposed to be a first step: “In order to be able to work out viable assignments to the Federal Council, it is worth knowing the official position of the administration. And so-called interpellations – i.e. questions to the Federal Council – are very helpful for this.” Andrey expects a response from the Federal Council towards the end of May.
How it goes after that depends on the specific answer. Andrey outlined a possible approach at the E-Accessibility 2020 conference: “We should tighten the screw a little”, for example in procurement: “You could start with incentives, for example by giving companies that provide a track record in accessibility better rated in the award criteria he said at the time.
In the portrait of Daniele Corciulo, you can find out what other barriers a blind internet user can encounter.