This article is a continuation of our previous blog, where we explored how accessible information is from political parties during election time. This time, we look into each of the political parties’ manifestos and convey how accessible they actually are.

What Is A Manifesto?

A manifesto sets out what a political party promises to achieve if they are elected to lead the Government over the next four years.

This is an especially important document to be able to access, as it is a direct connection between the political party and the general public.

Of course you may have the information given to you by someone knocking at your door, or by listening to the party political broadcast on the television, however, this does not give adequate time for people to be able to process this information and compare the different promises set out online.

A lot of people still choose the party that their parents voted for, but in saying that, there are a lot of people who are now taking more interest in what the political parties are promising and what changes they are offering that can better support individual needs.

Have You Struggled To Access A Political Manifesto?

Have you had problems when attempting to access a parties’ manifesto? If so, get in contact with the Shaw Trust Accessibility Services team and let us know. Our experts will then have a conversation with each political party to advise them on the importance of websites and documents being accessible and offer assistance to help them in becoming inclusive for the next election.

Assessing The Accessibility of Political Party Manifestos

No political parties will be linked to these observations of inaccessibility, however, here is a general overview of the problems we discovered:

Issues Found Within PDFs

Many of the documents were exceptionally long, as you would expect. The good news is that there were heading levels in place in each of the main sections, which enabled me to quickly navigate to the information I required. However, the sub-sections had a great deal of bullet points, which would have been better suited as a subsequent heading level (such as a Heading Level 3), to speed up the reading time.

There were also headings on some manifestos for a ‘short version,’ but were lacking headings for the ‘full version,’ leaving me unaware if I had got the complete manifesto.

Inaccessible Website Pages

One of the websites had a main description of the section with a sentence highlighting the specific policy, but, to be able to read the rest of the information, the user was required to activate a link. Unfortunately, this link was mouse dependent and inaccessible for people who only use a keyboard to access a website. As a result, the information could not be read.

In addition, another website had a link to a downloadable manifesto, but there was no indication on the type or size of the file.

We were pleased to find that one of the parties did provide directions to a dedicated web page, which held several accessible versions of their manifesto. There was still one disappointment found here though, where a few sites stated that they offered easy read formats of documents, but sadly, these weren’t available at that time. People shouldn’t have to wait for these formats. Although in saying that, the news items seemed to have the manifestos before the party’s website published them.

Why All Documents Should Be Accessible

This blog is focused on manifestos for all of the political parties, which are important documents that provide key information about how our country will be managed and enable voters to make an informed decision. However, the accessibility of these documents demonstrates how other documents and information are provided electronically.

If you take the time to create such a document to send out, to either one other person or to thousands, you want everyone to be able to read it. The inclusive tools are out there and all you need to do is use the correct best practices to make a document accessible.

Most of these documents would give someone time to reply if they cannot easily read the document due to its inaccessibility. However, on this occasion, there is not a lot of time between the manifesto being posted and it being time to make a decision when voting.

Training for accessible documents

Training is really needed to educate about the importance of making all documents accessible, no matter whether they are within a web page or as a downloadable document. Prevention is always better than a cure! 

So, with training, where do you start? Our team offers training for just an issue. But, what happens when the people who received the training move on to other opportunities? Yes, they can take that training with them, but then the original company that had the initial training may go back to creating inaccessible information. This leads me to think that this is a bigger problem than we initially thought. Where does the initial knowledge come from, is it at school, college, or university? In that case are the correct tools and inclusive knowledge being taught?

I am sure I have stated this before, but there are several countries that make accessible websites the law, with penalties put in place for any organisations that do not adhere to them. Which should be the case.

Before finishing this blog, I must say that the accessibility of documents has been getting better over the years, but there is always that anticipation when accessing a document online that it will still be inaccessible.

If you need help in creating accessible documents, we offer a range of services that can assist you.

Other Blogs Relating To Political Party Accessibility

Have you read our other blogs concerning accessibility during election time? Find them below: