RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – A new watchdog group has identified no less than 44 violations among the four political candidates’ websites when it comes to international standard’s for digital accessibility.

The result: potentially 61 million voters living with a disability are getting shut out from critical information during this election cycle.

This is one of many insights disclosed in a report released today by Ablr, ta new joint venture between LCI Tech and Walk West.

Conducted by its in-house auditors – which include people who are blind and visually impaired (BVI) – the audit established President Donald J. Trump’s political campaign website had four website violations, while former Vice President and Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s website had 13 violations.

Current Republican Vice President Mike Pence’s website had 17 violations; meanwhile, Senator and Democratic Vice-Presidential Nominee Kamala Harris’ website had 10 violations.

Violations were ranked as “critical,” “serious,” or “moderate.”

They included things like “color contrast,” where individuals with low vision regularly encounter difficulty distinguishing text from a background color; and “no alternate text,” to describe images to people who are unable to see them.

Other key findings:

  • President Trump: Lack of discernible text fonts and no presence of skip links were among the major violations.
  • Vice President Joe Biden: Several instances of insufficient color contrasts between different fonts and inaccessible by keyboard. Many people with disabilities cannot use a mouse and require a keyboard to navigate the Web.
  • Vice President Mike Pence: Lack of discernible text fonts, with many instances of invalid ARIA attribute names.
  • Senator Kamala Harris: Lack of discernible fonts and instances where multiple static elements of the webpage had the same ID attribute and multiple links are missing discernable text for screen readers.

John Samuel, CEO of Ablr, estimated that one in four Americans may not be able to access the websites for the Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates.

“We hope this audit encourages the immediate improvement of the website accessibility for each candidate’s site because voting is a civil right, just like accessibility is.”

LCI Tech is now Ablr, a joint venture with Walk West to promote digital accessibility

A new venture

This week, LCI Tech and Raleigh digital marketing agency Walk West teamed up to launch Ablr, a new firm that offers accessibility services and digital inclusion consultancy.

Under the new arrangement, the firm will operate as a separate entity to LCI, one of the largest employers of Americans who are blind or visually impaired with headquarters in Durham. It established a tech division in early 2019.

“By partnering with Walk West, we will now have the experience and expertise of a fast growing digital agency,” John Samuel, the venture’s co-founder and CEO, told WRAL TechWire earlier this week.

“This will allow us to help companies not only to make their external presence accessible, but also their internal systems, which will then lead to a more inclusive workspace for people of all abilities.”