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Visual impairment another obstacle in the search for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in Pennsylvania

One Adams County man claims his blindness delayed him from accessing the vaccine.

NEW OXFORD, Pa. — The struggle to find a vaccine appointment can be even more difficult for those with visual impairment. One Adams County man claims his blindness delayed him from accessing the vaccine.

Kevin Turnblaugh, 66,qualifies for the vaccine under Phase 1A as a diabetic. When he tried to use Pennsylvania’s Your Turn tool to schedule his vaccine, however, he ran into a problem.

Turnblaugh is also blind due to an eye disease and recovering from a stroke. He could not use the tool’s map feature to find nearby vaccine providers.

“It’s frustrating because we can’t see the dots,” he said.

For those who can’t use the Your Turn website, Pennsylvania does offer a phone line at 877-PA-HEALTH.

“If eligible, the representative will help the individual find a vaccine provider near them and provide contact information to make an appointment,” said Lindsey Mauldin, senior advisor for Pennsylvania’s COVID response.

Turnbaugh counters that he should be able to use the website.

“They need to change their website around and make it ADA-compliant,” he said.

ADA laws are complicated, but in general, informational images such as maps need to also be available in a text-based format to make a site ADA-compliant.

VisionCorps, a nonprofit in York, said they received multiple calls from people with visual impairment trying to get the vaccine.

They wrote in an email,

“Some of our VisionCorps clients who are blind have been successful in registering to get the vaccine through different websites… We are available to help our clients who are blind or vision-impaired.”

Turnbaugh ended up calling UPMC Health System for assistance.

“They took my information over the phone and registered me,” Turnbaugh said.

But that only got him on the list of UPMC Hanover in York County. They haven’t called him yet and he has been unable to find any vaccine locations in Adams County.

After all Turnbaugh’s efforts, he is still waiting for his vaccine.