Article Index

5 Overall findings across all the websites

5.1 Overall findings

This section includes findings from the website assessments that did not fit neatly under the assessment checkpoints.

5.1.1 Upper case text

Upper case text was used in a number of sites, predominantly for menus. It can have a stylistic benefit but doesn’t help legibility for low-vision users who get fewer cues about the letters and word shapes when all capitalised.

5.1.2 PDF documents

Some sites had links to documents in PDF format (e.g. Labour Party Policy). PDF format can be inaccessible to screen readers and to low vision users if not marked up properly and need to be downloaded and read in the Acrobat reader not the browser to use the PDF accessibility options.

5.1.3 Unorthodox coding

Some sites have been built with modern uses of HTML/CSS syntax. This includes techniques like avoiding the IMG element and displaying images using "background-image" in CSS. This is fine where the image is indeed a background for cosmetic purposes and conveys no information but if it contains information then some users will have no access to that.

Background images behind blank text that are hyperlinks hide the links from screen readers.

There was unorthodox coding of some sites. For example, the Conservative Party website has few anchor elements. Either Javascript is used to turn text into hyperlinks or "input type=submit" is used for "Read More". Similar coding is in evidence on the Internet Party's News page.

5.1.4 General findings

In general, none of the sites appear to have been constructed with the intention of being accessible to people with disabilities.

Some sites had fewer barriers than the rest - notably the Green Party then Labour Party then National Party.

Colour Contrast between text and background was acceptable across almost all the sites.

Screen reader users would have considerable trouble with some sites as "skip to content" was missing on many of the sites and access to links impossible and little meaningful alt text.

Keyboard only users were not well served by any of the sites with almost no highlighting of the link under focus other than what is provided by the browser.

Only one site had Sign Language video and many sites were text heavy: this does not serve Deaf people well.

5.2 Alt text

In general, alt text was mostly missing for images on the websites. A number of sites use only background images for which adding alt text isn’t possible.

One site had a graph, an excellent way of expressing information especially to visual thinkers but there was no alternative text rendering its information inaccessible to blind users.

5.3 Breadcrumbs / Sitemap

In general, this was dealt with poorly on the websites with half of them having neither breadcrumbs nor a sitemap. Four sites had one or the other and only one site had both.

5.4 Hyperlinks visible

Two websites had clearly discernible hyperlinks in the content text, the rest were not easily seen, mostly because of the absence of underlining. Underlining is generally omitted for stylistic reasons but it comes at the cost of easy inter-page navigation.

5.5 Syntax

Clean HTML syntax helps assistive technology, predominantly screen readers. Only the home page of each site was tested in the validation tool. All of the websites had some errors: the New Zealand First site got close with just two errors.

5.6 Headline hierarchy

This was a mixed bag across the sites; two were good, four were OK (followed the hierarchy in general but with the odd exception) and four were poor with heading elements being used for formatting rather than  to show page structure.

5.7 Read more

Another mixed bag, but one of extremes, as three sites treated the “Read More” links in very elegant fashion. For these three sites, only the “Read More” was visible on screen and the full unambiguous link “Read More about xxx” was available to screen readers.

All of the other sites had “Read More” or “More” for the screen readers apart from one site that didn’t use the anchor element for links, so no links at all were accessible to the screen reader.

5.8 Keyboard only

For keyboard users only there are two key issues; is there a shortcut straight to the content so that screen reader users don’t have to listen to all the navigation, and is the current hyperlink that the user has progressed to with tab key highlighted in some way. Browsers provide some highlighting but it’s usually not very clear.

Some sites had keyboard traps - once you tab into the feature you can't tab out again.

Some sites didn't have links coded as anchor elements so the tab key was unable to be used to access those links.

5.9 Colour Contrast

The Labour Party website had good contrast between text and background throughout. All of the other sites had good contrast in the main text area but had inadequate contrast somewhere on their pages.

Adequate colour contrast is important for older people who tend to be more likely to have poor sight. Parties chasing the senior vote need to make their sites easy to read.

5.10 NZSL Video

New Zealand Sign Language video was only found on the Green Party' website.

5.11 Video/captions

Only four sites had any video. Video can be very helpful for people with low literacy.

Of those that provided video, only two had captioned video and none had transcriptions of the audio text.

5.12 Rich Experience

Some people are visual, some prefer text, impairments may make processing information in particular formats more difficult for some people. Providing information in a range of formats - text, images, video, plain text, short summaries, clear meaningful headings and sub-headings works to ensure that your website communicates with the widest possible range of people.

Four of the party websites - Conservative Party, Green Party, Labour Party and National Party provided information in different formats. The rest predominantly relied on communicating with text.