Tools Rate Websites' Accessibility for Disabled Voters

As more people look for voting information on the Internet, new tools are making it possible to evaluate online resources and ensure that they are accessible to all voters, including those with disabilities. The Functional Accessibility Evaluator is a free service that assesses websites and webpages using pre-established guidelines—rating them as inaccessible, marginally accessible, or fully accessible—and creates a summary report identifying each site's problematic design features. The Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool produces a report that documents the accessibility of each distinct page of a website.

Web content accessibility guidelines include recommendations related to a wide range of disabilities. For example:

  • Providing text alternatives for nontext content such as graphics.
  • Providing captions on multimedia.
  • Ensuring that content is compatible with assistive technologies.
  • Designing content to be generally easy to see and hear for all users.
  • Ensuring that users can easily navigate and locate all website content.

Although these tools and recommendations are valuable, accessible voting involves more than being able to find and use information online. A report funded by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission surveyed voters and detailed their access to the 2012 presidential election. The study found that 30 percent of individuals with disabilities reported having trouble voting at their polling places, compared with 8 percent of those without disabilities. The most commonly cited reasons were inability to read or see ballot content and difficulty using or understanding voting equipment. The commission's website also provides information specific to resources for voters with disabilities.

Additionally, the Department of Justice's Americans With Disabilities Act website now features an "Accessible Technology" section to guide individuals and entities on the application of ADA provisions to new technologies.

Samuel Derheimer manages and Keara Castaldo is a research associate for election initiatives at The Pew Charitable Trusts.

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