Article Index

 

1 Executive Summary

1.1 Rationale

Voting and participation in the electoral process is a fundamental human right. With that principle in mind, this report was produced to see how easily people with disability can engage with party political websites. Websites can present barriers to access for people with disabilities if not consciously designed to remove them.

1.2 AccEase

This report was prepared by AccEase Ltd a communications company that focuses on maximising communications reach especially to people with disabilities. AccEase has previously undertaken large-scale assessments of public sector websites.

1.3 Methodology

Ten party political websites were assessed on June 13 2014. Websites are dynamic and may have subsequently changed. The sites were assessed against a number of common web accessibility checkpoints to provide a broad brush view. This report is not a detailed analysis.

1.4 Key Findings

  1. None of the websites appears to have been designed and built with the specific intention of creating a fully accessible website. All of the websites had some elements that would present difficulty to people with disabilities.
  2. None of the websites included an “Accessibility” page to describe any features that a user with disability might use to assist their access.
  3. None of the websites provided clear and useful alternative text (alt text) to all images on their websites.
  4. The main body text of all the websites had sufficient contrast against their backgrounds to be legible for most people. However, navigation elements and other panels did not all have sufficient contrast across all the websites.
  5. Only one site included any New Zealand Sign language video.
  6. Only a few sites included video of any kind, of these some included captions and none transcripts.
  7. Some non-standard coding of links (anchor elements) meant that screen reader users would not be able to navigate these sites fully.
  8. Keyboard-only users were poorly served, one site providing no access at all, others had keyboard traps (can’t tab out of a section). One site provided link highlighting for links in text but not in the menus – the rest provided no highlighting at all.
  9. Over half the sites did not provide an alternative navigation mechanism of breadcrumbs or site map.
  10. Half the sites presented content in a number of formats – text, images and video, with good headings and sub-headings. The other half relied primarily on text to convey their messages; this can be difficult for people with low literacy or reading difficulties.

Overall, people with disabilities would find about half the sites acceptable to use and have difficulties with the other half. Some sites would provide significant barriers to people with specific disabilities and they would probably not persist in trying to access them at all.