New Jersey residents with disabilities demand COVID-19 vaccine priority

EDISON, New Jersey (WABC) -- Despite the continuous risks of COVID-19 and a disorganized vaccine rollout, many across the country, specifically those within marginalized communities, continue to face hurdles as they seek to be vaccinated.

For New Jersey's residents with disabilities, registering for the coveted vaccine has been nearly impossible, despite the many health risks they already face.

"Since the beginning, it's been pretty detrimental for people with disabilities in the state of New Jersey, specifically as it relates to just finding out what was going on with COVID and how it affected people," said Javier Robles, Chair of the NJ Covid-19 Disability Action Committee and Professor at Rutgers University.

With the establishment of the NJ Covid-19 Disability Action Committee, people with disabilities, their family members, advocates, and professionals have assessed the various ways in which the state of New Jersey can better address their needs at a local, state, and federal level.

"Our committee has found that there are issues of language. For example, if you're a person who's blind and you go to the Department of Health website, the website is not accessible to the equipment that they use to read that site. So you're asking people with disabilities to jump through all these hoops when the fact is that we need to have a better process," said Robles.

Within their report, the committee also includes recommendations for new legislation and amendments to existing laws and policies to better address inequalities people with disabilities have endured, throughout the pandemic and other emergency situations.

"The whole process has not been fun, not just for myself, but for a lot of other people. If you want to know what to do for people with disabilities, why don't you ask the experts which are people with disabilities," said Robles.

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