Election websites accessibility report – improving but still difficult to use

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Thursday, 2 June 2016 11:58am

Media Access Australia’s Director of Digital Accessibility, Dr Scott Hollier, recently tested a number of websites related to the upcoming Federal Election to determine their accessibility. When compared with similar tests he did in 2013, improvements have been made. Yet people with disabilities or impairments still face challenges to determine their voting preferences based on online information, as Dr Hollier explains in an informative article and podcast.

Image of the words: why, where, what, how, when, who, in voice bubbles

The original election investigation in 2013 conducted by Dr Scott Hollier (who is legally blind) found that all of the major political parties, including the Liberal party of Australia, the Australian Labour Party, the Nationals and The Greens, had websites that were inaccessible. It also revealed that the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) website was inaccessible preventing people from checking their enrolment, and that the ABC Vote Compass website, a popular tool for determining how your views are mapped to political parties, had issues that could cause errors in the final analysis.

Three years on and it seems that there have been some improvements. In particular, the ABC Vote Compass website is now largely accessible thanks to work undertaken by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (that created Vote Compass and licences its use) after they contacted Dr Hollier following his 2013 report and incorporated his feedback into their accessibility review.

As a result, this tool is now largely effective for people with disabilities in determining which party best aligns with their views. Another positive is that a random selection of videos from all four political parties had captions, although the quality of the captioning varied.

While progress has been made, many accessibility issues specific to the political party websites remain largely inaccessible. The Liberal, Nationals and ALP all feature a number of accessibility issues on their websites, and while The Greens website has significantly improved from the last election, its visual presentation makes it difficult to use due to colour contrast issues.

The AEC issues also remain, with the site’s CAPTCHA gatekeeping feature preventing people with disabilities from checking their enrolment information. It is now too late to enrol or update your details for the 2 July Federal Election.

Listen to a podcast interview with Dr Hollier who talks in more detail about the current state of accessibility of websites related to the upcoming Federal Election to Media Access Australia’s Philip Jenkinson.


Read the transcript of Philip Jenkinson's interview with Dr Scott Hollier on 1 June 2016

A full discussion of the testing and results can also be found in this month’s Access iQ W3C Column titled Federal election 2016 - is your vote accessible yet? 

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