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Presidential Candidates Should Make Their Web Sites Accessible:


Presidential Campaign Websites Fail Accessibility & Usability Tests


 Press Release  

September  3, 2008                                 Contact: Michael Burks (ICDRI): 919-349-6661       

Updated 04/14/12  

Raleigh, N.C. September 3, 2008  – The International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet (ICDRI) is disappointed that Presidential candidates Bob Barr, Alan Keyes, John McCain, Ralph Nader, and Barack Obama, have not made their web sites accessible to and usable by all Americans with disabilities. 

“It’s a big disappointment that neither John McCain’s campaign manager, nor Barack Obama’s campaign manager, took action in response to the information we provided in support of making their web sites more accessible to persons with disabilities,” says Michael Burks, President of ICDRI.  

A free electronic review of John McCain’s and Barack Obama’s websites were sent to their campaign managers. The other three campaigns were notified of the inaccessibility of their web sites as well.  The accessibility assessments evaluate how easy it is for persons with disabilities to make contributions, access information about the candidates’ positions, and engage as volunteers in the national campaigns.  In the ICDRI review, numerous accessibility issues were discovered that can be easily fixed.  

Below are examples of accessibility issues from each campaign web site:

  • Obama Web Site - Form Fields are missing labels.  This can confuse users of Assistive Technology and prevent persons from disabilities from knowing what to type into the input fields.
  • McCain Web Site - Alt Attribute Tags are missing.  This means that users of Assistive Technology will not be able to tell what message the image or object is trying to convey.
  • Barr Web Site – Multimedia presentations are missing captions or transcripts.  This means that persons with hearing loss do not know what is being said.
  • Keyes Web Site - Linked Images are missing Alt Tags or have inappropriate Alt Tags. This means that users of Assistive Technology will not be able to determine the destination of the linked image.
  • Nader Web Site - Image Map Areas Missing Alt Text.  This means that users of Assistive Technology will not be able to determine the destination of the linked image

“How are persons with disabilities supposed to participate equally in national election activities?” asks ICDRI Advisory Board member, Jenifer Simpson, a leader in the accessible technology policy field. “For example, a person with a vision disability or a person with an intellectual disability must be able to get the information they need to make an informed vote in November.   Our colleagues in the communities of persons with hearing disabilities tell us also that no campaign routinely captions the video clips of its candidates either!” 

“Web sites are increasingly becoming interactive and some of the Presidential campaign web sites are pushing out information to the prospective voter as supporters sign up to receive the latest campaign news, “ says Cynthia D. Waddell, Executive Director of ICDRI. “Imagine receiving an email telling you to watch the exciting videoclip about the presidential candidate, but then to only find out that you cannot “watch” it because it is not captioned and you are deaf or hard of hearing. This is only one example.  Designers of web marketing and outreach can address the needs of voters with disabilities by implementing the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or even the federal Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards for the web.  We hope the candidates take up our recommendation to make their web sites more accessible for voters with disabilities.”

Links to the reports are below:

Report on Obama Website Accessibility Barriers

Report on McCain Website Accessibility Barriers

Report on Barr Website Accessibility Barriers

Report on Keyes Website Accessibility Barriers

Report on Nader Website Accessibility Barriers

 Founded in 1998, The International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet (ICDRI) is a non-profit center.  ICDRI’s overarching vision is the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities.  ICDRI seeks to increase opportunities for persons with disabilities by identifying barriers to participation in society and promoting best practices and universal design in technology for the global community. For further details, please contact icdri@icdri.org or go to http://www.icdri.org.


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