Better disabled access suggested for delivery

Enabling Love chief executive Joshua Perry says more could be done to ensure vaccinations were...
Enabling Love chief executive Joshua Perry says more could be done to ensure vaccinations were accessible to all.PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON
As the Covid-19 vaccination process continues to roll out to the general population, some people with disabilities believe more can be done to improve access for all.

Enabling Love chief executive Joshua Perry, who has cerebral palsy, said he thought carers who were helping him should have been vaccinated but that had not happened for all of them.

There was "far more" that could have been done to make the booking system accessible for all of the disabled community, he said.

"The Government needs to fix the processes when it comes to the rollout."

This included ensuring information was widely distributed, having options for Braille, and contacting people with disabilities directly, he said.

Otago Deaf Society secretary Amy Taylor said her personal impression after attending a disability audit at the Covid-19 vaccination centre at the Meridian Mall was staff were friendly and helpful, but there was some room for improvement, including offering interpreter services.

Some signage was small and not as clear as it could be.

She had difficulty accessing mobile internet in the lower level of the Meridian Mall, which meant deaf people might not be able to access mobile interpreter services on their cellphones.

"Deaf people need to be able to talk to the vaccinator about what medication they are on, side effects and what to expect.

"Deaf people use these services to be independent."

The online system did not allow for people with access issues to inform the vaccination service before their visit, so when a disabled person arrived the centre was not prepared.

The online booking system was fine for people with good English and technological literacy but some members of the deaf community had NZSL as a first language and would need someone else to access the booking system for them.

In response to questions from The Star, Southern DHB Covid-19 vaccine rollout incident controller Hamish Brown said people could book a vaccination through the website or by calling 0800 28 29 26, seven days a week, from 8am-8pm.

Bookings could be made on behalf of other people both online and over the phone.

"This means that whanau and carers can support people requiring assistance to make a booking.

"Anyone making a booking can request extra assistance, such as more time, more space, help moving around or low sensory," Mr Brown said.

Clinics are available at many GPs and pharmacies in Dunedin and more will open soon.

This increased the chances that people could receive their vaccine in a familiar environment, Mr Brown said.

These clinics were also experienced in providing assistance to people with a disability — for example, general practices had foundation standards to ensure disability access.

"The mass vaccination centre at the Meridian Mall is an accessible building with disability parking," he said.

The Southern Covid-19 vaccination programme had been working with disability providers across the region to set up vaccination clinics specifically for their clients.


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