Help & Advice1st May 2015

Disabled website users vote 'none of the above'

Using standard tests websites of all political parties are found to be inaccessible to disabled people

by Sarah Lawrence, Editor

We are a-political here at SLFirst, that way we can comment on each and every party, have a go if it's needed and applaud something positive, if, and I mean if, anything comes up that would really make a difference to disabled people, particularly deaf people.

As a quick snap shot of the election campaigns so far, some of the things I have noticed is that we have had very little commitment to address the plight and hardship of disabled people and their carers from any party. Indeed, with the Conservative Party we have seen MPs avoiding debates and discussions that have been set up specifically to talk about disabled people. Their record is pretty poor over the last 5 years after all. We've had a little effort from Labour with their whole manifesto made available in BSL, all 60 plus minutes of it, but sadly that is r too long to be helpful and in any case seems to be more of a translation of words rather than the meaning, that culturally deaf BSL need. 

At least with the Lib Dems we have a quiet murmuring of a commitment to a BSL Act, but it's not something they are shouting about from the tree tops, so you wonder how serious that intention is. At least the Greens have a candidate who is a Deaf BSL user.

Overall, looking after disabled people doesn't seem to be a strong point of any of the political parties is my thinking. Just like many of my everyday experiences, no-one seems to give a damn. There are always other priorities, more high profile vote winning issues or the 'trendy' issues determined by a focussed and determined media.

Given this backdrop, I was not at all surprised to see the following Press Release from Ability Net, a National Charity with over 20 years experience of enabling people with disabilities to access technology and the internet at home. 

Amongst other things, Ability Net conduct web accessibility tests which include people with a variety of impairments and limiting conditions, including sight loss, hearing loss and dyslexia. When they performed their tests on the websites for all of the main political parties, they found that none of them comply with the minimum legal standard of accessiblity. None! Now what does that tell us!

Ability Net's Press Release is below:

Press Release 1st May 2015

A report by e-accessibility charity AbilityNet into the accessibility of the major political party websites published today has found that none of the websites comply with the minimum legal standard of accessibility.

This is the closest election for generations, but is also the most digital we have ever seen. AbilityNet conducted industry standard tests on all seven of the main party websites, including checking the code, disabled user testing and manual checks for best practise.

Tests found that all the party political sites are ‘difficult and frustrating’ for disabled people to use and none of the sites reached the minimum legal requirements.

Below are the sites ranked in order of ease of use for the disabled voters who tried to find out information on each party’s policies and contact them about disability issues:

3.Liberal Democrats
7.Plaid Cymru

Robin Christopherson, Head of Digital Inclusion at AbilityNet said:

“If web accessibility were to determine the outcome of the General Election on 7 May then the top 3 parties would be Labour, SNP and the Liberal Democrats – although none of the above meet minimum accessibility requirements so it’s questionable whether they deserve the disabled vote.

“What our tests have shown is that disabled people are being denied access to information that could help them make an informed choice.

“In an election where every vote counts, the political parties should take note and put web accessibility at the top of their digital agendas”

Article by Sarah Lawrence, Editor

posted in Community / Help & Advice

1st May 2015