Los Angeles County Vaccination Rollout Taps Ava to Boost Accessibility

As Los Angeles County significantly stepped up its efforts to expand vaccinations to the tens of thousands per day, it needed to ensure that vaccine access for Deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) people wasn’t compromised.

With a population of approximately 10 million people, LA County had to do so in a way that allowed the massive scale of the operation to be uninterrupted — and ensure the process was fast, straightforward, and safe.

It’s a Herculean effort and a logistical mine field — not just to coordinate appointments, set up vaccine centers and stations, organize the personnel to do the work, and protect everyone while doing it, there is a ton of information to be asked and offered to all of the individuals getting vaccinated, including deaf and hard-of-hearing people.

One challenge in this key operation was the fact that DHH people who showed up driving had a difficulty understanding the screening questions that the volunteers were asking behind their masks. It created another choke point at the registration where the 5+ mandatory questions had to be conducted writing on paper.

Volunteer at the Inglewood Forum in LA County asking essential vaccination questions to a hard-of-hearing person using Ava

We needed a fast solution so that we could effectively serve the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community as we rolled out COVID-19 vaccines in LA County. Equal access is one of our core priorities,” said Michael Owh, Chief Deputy Director for Los Angeles County’s Internal Services Department. “Since Ava’s app is so user friendly, our volunteers needed minimal training. We were able to quickly integrate it into our operations and now one-on-one conversations are incredibly easy with all community members.”

LA Vaccination effort volunteers with LA County ISD General Manager Michael Owh (second from left) and Ava CEO Thibault Duchemin (middle) at the Inglewood Forum vaccination center.

Ava, a highly accurate voice transcribing app, was perfect for quick 1–1 interactions needed at the vaccination center. Because Ava is designed specifically to make the daily lives of DHH people better, its mobile and tablet app was a natural fit for LA County’s vaccination effort.

LA County has a history of championing accessibility from voting to the arts, and it’s not surprising it quickly moved to outfit its vaccination volunteers with Ava’s mobile app.

The Ava app (for iOS and Android) with its 24/7 live-captioning technology was perfect for the quick 1–1 chats to ask questions such as: “Do you have any allergies?” or “Have you had flu vaccination in the last 14 days?”

Not only does the app provide volunteers with an easy way to ask DHH folks essential questions before administering the vaccines, it enables both sides of a conversation to occur. Vaccinators can ask questions, and DHH vaccinees can caption their answers, questions or concerns prior to or after receiving the vaccine. They can either read questions asked to them on the app, or download it themselves and type into Ava’s keyboard or text-to-speech feature to voice a concern or a question.

The simplicity and accuracy of Ava’s app provided a clear, two-way conversation to occur — with easy access to the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community, and ultimately helped with the smooth rollout of LA County’s massive vaccination plan.