ATLANTA, Jan. 28, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Georgia Tech's Center for Inclusive Design and Innovation (CIDI), with funding from the CDC Foundation and technical assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have launched a microsite with COVID-19 information in alternative formats for people with disabilities. The microsite showcases accessible materials that adapt existing CDC guidance into American Sign Language, braille and simplified text for people with low literacy skills. This collaboration was made possible through partnerships including Deaf Link; the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies (CLDS), Department of Allied Health Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and the American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD).
"CDC is a trusted source for COVID-19 information, but people must be able to access this information for it to be used," said Judy Monroe, MD, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. "This project aims to further the reach of that critical information by amplifying and adapting existing content for individuals with disabilities, some of whom are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19." CDC's website follows Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, ensuring that their public-facing electronic communication is accessible for individuals with some disabilities including those who use assistive technology or access videos with closed captioning. However, many people require additional alternative formats to access COVID-19 information.
"CDC is committed to ensuring essential information is accessible to individuals with disabilities, especially during this public health emergency," said Dr. Karen Remley, director of CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. "We are grateful for the support of our partners in this effort and are working together to ensure this key public health information reaches those who need it."
Select materials in alternative formats were message tested with target disability audiences to ensure the materials were understandable and culturally relevant. This microsite has been launched with initial information in accessible formats and will continue to add content as more is created. In addition to providing CDC guidance in multiple formats, this project will distribute embossed braille.
One example is the distribution of materials with minimized text complexity. These simplified materials communicate critical content regarding COVID-19 but do so at the easiest reading levels possible. "We drew upon several decades of research to create a new set of guidelines to further simplify the Plain English materials the CDC creates. We are delighted by the response we've received as adults with low levels of literacy skills successfully read and understand these materials," Karen Erickson, director CLDS.
Guy Toles, braille production manager at CIDI, and his team have been working to create and improve access to braille versions of COVID-19 content. Individuals and organizations can access braille-ready files and request braille be mailed directly to them via the CIDI microsite.
"The disability community spoke up regarding their COVID-19 information format and accessibility needs. In collaboration with the CDC Foundation and CDC, CIDI is listening and actively responding. In addition to providing translated COVID-19 information in accessible formats, CIDI will conduct trainings and webinars on topics related to COVID-19 and health communications for people with disabilities. The dates and information for these events are posted to the microsite," Carolyn Phillips, co-director CIDI.
About the CDC Foundation The CDC Foundation helps the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) save and improve lives by unleashing the power of collaboration between CDC, philanthropies, corporations, organizations and individuals to protect the health, safety and security of America and the world. The CDC Foundation is the go-to nonprofit authorized by Congress to mobilize philanthropic partners and private-sector resources to support CDC's critical health protection mission. Since 1995, the CDC Foundation has raised over $1 billion and launched more than 1,000 programs impacting a variety of health threats from chronic disease conditions including cardiovascular disease and cancer, to infectious diseases like rotavirus and HIV, to emergency responses, including COVID-19 and Ebola. The CDC Foundation managed hundreds of CDC-led programs in the United States and in more than 140 countries last year. Visit www.cdcfoundation.org for more information. Follow the Foundation on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.
About Georgia Tech's Center for Inclusive Design and Innovation (CIDI) With its rich history of providing accessible solutions to an underserved community, CIDI has positioned itself as a leader in accessibility and inclusion. CIDI is committed to promoting technological innovation; developing user-centered research, products, and services for individuals with disabilities; and addressing unmet needs in higher education, government, non-profits, and corporations by providing accessible and inclusive environments for all.