Let’s get UK elections online

Would you trust someone you don’t know to cast your vote in an election? Without online voting, that’s exactly what many blind people have to do, and it’s not acceptable.

Picture these two scenes, which happened in the UK on 7 May 2015:

John

A blind man (let’s call him John) is struggling to find the door of the polling station where he’s going to cast his election and council votes, so a member of the public kindly guides him in there.

The polling station officials ignore John and begin asking the man who guided him in what John’s name and address are. When John finally gets their attention, he explains the situation and the guide leaves.

Then John is given his two ballot papers and shown to a booth. When he asks for the plastic templates that fit over the ballot papers to show him where to put his X, the official asks a colleague, scrabbles around and comes up with a single template. John expresses concern that the ballots are different lengths and the template won’t fit both papers, and the official discovers that it’s an old template that doesn’t fit either paper.

So John is forced to rely on the integrity of the official to mark both papers on his behalf, denying him the right to a secret vote, and leaving him feeling less than confident that his votes went to the intended recipients.

Ann

Ann is aged 75 and suffers from debilitating arthritis. She’s very politically opinionated, and wants her voice to be heard in every election.

Ann’s daughter has promised to drive her to their local polling station, but is ill on election day and is unable to make it.

Ann needs to be accompanied when she’s out and about, and so is unable to go there by taxi. So she can’t cast her vote for the first time in over 50 years. She told us that she wishes she’d placed a postal vote, but 20/20 hindsight is a wonderful thing.

How would online voting help?

If John and Ann were able to cast their votes online,  John could cast his vote securely on a website with the help of his screen reading software but no input from anyone else, ensuring that his vote was cast correctly and secretly. Ann would be able to vote securely on her tablet, without the extra discomfort that leaving home involves for her.

Help us campaign for change

We’re asking David Cameron to set the wheels in motion to have online voting ready for the 2020 UK general election. Please sign and share our online voting petition on change.org.

Every signature gets us closer to allowing disabled people to vote with confidence and in secrecy like everyone else. Thank you.

Resistance to accessibility

I was reading Anne Gibson’s excellent article on A List Apart (opens in new window) , Reframing Accessibility for the Web (opens in new window), and it got me thinking about resistance I’ve encountered to accessibility. It often feels as though the lot of the accessibility evaluator is to be continually telling developers, designers and management – no: no, that doesn’t work; no you can’t do it that way; no, you can’t use that really cool bit of functionality; no, that carefully coordinated colour scheme has to go.

This naturally leads to resistance, a reluctance to change, and even sometimes resentment – I can see it on their faces! And in truth, I felt similar emotions when I first encountered accessibility. All my beautiful code maligned! And now I have to learn a new way of thinking and doing things? Everything has been just fine until now!

Then followed frustration – I tried hard, but more often than not got it wrong. It was difficult to know what was accessible, and what was not – everything I did felt tentative. I lost confidence – there didn’t seem to be any hard and fast rules to follow. A solution that worked in one situation didn’t help in another. This seemed more akin to black magic than logical deduction. Feeling like I was always ‘wrong’ was very frustrating.

And so from these feelings, objections arise.

Continue reading Resistance to accessibility