Delivering accessible information about elections on the web

Local election websites are important sources of information for voters who cannot read print, or any voter looking for answers online. In our studies, about 40% of participants had been to their county websites. It’s likely they went there for election information in addition to any number of other answers.

People who come to your website have a wide range of needs. When we design websites to be flexible and accessible, people with low literacy or limited English skills, aging eyes, or a temporary injury can all use websites more easily. But making websites accessible expands your audience to people who use screen readers or ZoomText to read visual materials, or who use special keyboards or pointers to navigate, or who rely on captions and transcripts for audio. Having an accessible website will also make it easier to use for people who could use some assistance but don’t think of themselves as disabled.

Structure content with headings

One of the most important things you can do to make your website accessible is to structure your content with headings. People who have good vision will be able to quickly skim your site to find what they’re looking for. But people who use other methods to read the content on your site will benefit from proper HTML coding. For example, first level headings should be coded as H1. This helps screen readers and other assistive technology find those headings.

Make links meaningful

Use text that helps users know where they’re going to end up. Rather than using links that say “Read more” or “click here” or “continue,” use links that have clear actions. For example:

  • Find your polling place
  • Register to vote
  • How to vote by mail

The links should make sense when they’re by themselves, without any text around them.

 

We are delighted to announce that the third edition of the Field Guides to Ensuring Voter Intent includes 2 new titles, from which the tips above come.

Vol. 09¬†Creating accessible online information rolls up a lot of the work we’ve done over the last few years on accessible websites.

Vol. 10 Creating forms that help voters take action is all about the best ways to design forms and questionnaires.

 

Our newsletter, Civic Designing, sends practical tips and interesting research findings about how to ensure voter intent and make elections better through design to your mailbox. Subscribe to the newsletter.