CDC Foundation and Georgia Tech’s Center for Inclusive Design and Innovation Launch Microsite with COVID-19 Resources for People with Disabilities

COVID-19 communication materials in alternative formats will increase access for individuals with disabilities

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.

For more information about this project, please visit

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.