Organization name: International Foundation for Electoral Systems
Launched Date: 2015-05-01
Who has created it: Rebecca Aaberg
Problem statement and how the Accessible Innovation solves the problem.
More than one billion people in the world have a disability, yet citizens with disabilities remain underrepresented in political and public life. The participation of persons with disabilities in political processes provides a foundation for mainstreaming their inclusion in all aspects of society, by breaking down social stigmas and increasing the accountability of elected representatives. To facilitate the inclusion of persons with disabilities in political processes, ElectionAccess.org serves as a global clearinghouse of resources related to political participation and disability rights. Relevant best practices, excerpts from legal documents, and publications are sorted into one of six categories: legislation, voter education, assistive devices, definitions, media, and the latest news.
The content addresses the significant gap of online resources related to this topic, and has distinguished the website as an invaluable tool for election management bodies, disabled persons’ organizations (DPOs), researchers, and people with disabilities. For example, DPOs can determine whether their country’s national laws are causing undue barriers for persons with disabilities in voting, and use that information as a starting point for an advocacy campaign. As a result of its unique features and content, ElectionAccess.org has been cited as a key resource at high-level gatherings such as the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Council of Europe, and InterAction.
Tell us who is the target audience and how the accessible innovation will benefit them. Please specify the different target audiences groups and provide numbers and statistics of your current clients as well as what is the potential number of people that the innovation can impact and empower:
ElectionAccess.org targets several key groups, including persons with disabilities, disabled persons’ organizations (DPOs), civil society organizations, government bodies such as election management bodies, government agencies dedicated to working on issues of persons with disabilities, and others. Not only does ElectionAccess.org provide information about accessibility in elections and on democratic institutions but ElectionAccess.org is itself an accessible resource.
There are many different types of materials available on ElectionAccess.org, including:
- Examples of inclusive voter education, training materials, and assistive devices
- Legal excerpts from international and national laws
- Publications about political participation by persons with disabilities
These resources can be used by researchers, disability rights leaders, election management officials, and civil society members in a variety of ways. For example, election management officials could examine the voter education materials to see what has been done and how it could be replicated - or even improved. Or, disability rights leaders can search through international and national laws to learn what their country or region has committed to doing, or whether there are national laws that need to be reformed.
For example, excerpts from every national constitution and electoral law worldwide relevant to the political participation of persons with disabilities are included in a searchable, interactive database feature as one of the main tools on the site. Additionally, inclusive voter education samples, key publications on political rights for persons with disabilities, and a selection of assistive devices also feature prominently in galleries on the site. These features enable users to engage effectively and easily with election materials and laws that, in other contexts, can be challenging to understand or locate.
How is the accessible innovative solution different from current practices or ways of solving the problem?
Little work has been done to promote knowledge on political empowerment of persons with disabilities, even though it is a right according to Article 29 of the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
ElectionAccess.org is a unique resource that provides information on the signature and ratification status of the CRPD in each country, as well as news and information about DPOs, governments, and other organizations regarding participation. ElectionAccess.org also provides links to resources on a variety of disability and elections-related topics, including voter education.
How is the accessible innovative solution new, different or unique in terms of the technology or implementation?
Disability rights and political participation is an intersection rarely addressed in a meaningful way online; EA.org is one of the world’s first resources dedicated solely to this topic, engaging audiences in an accessible, inclusive and interesting way by exploring different facets of the topic, from legal reform to media representation. It is intended to bring together information on political participation of persons with disabilities that has not been made available in a cohesive way in the past. The focus on making information about persons with disabilities accessible to persons with disabilities is enhanced by the content of the information presented. This information, available in one location and utilizing a variety of forms of media, including radio spots, captions or transcripts, the use of a clear and consistent navigation, the use of different design elements other than color to convey information, the use of standard web fonts, and the addition of “alt” tags to all images are designed to make the site as accessible as possible.
How do you get the innovative solution to reach the target audience? Please elaborate on the your go to market strategy and which geographies do you currently work in and what are your future plans for marketing your innovation.
IFES leverages its connections around the world with DPOs, civil society, and governments to expand the network of users of ElectionAccess.org. With offices in over 40 countries and active programs on disability rights, this innovation has been a key resource for IFES’ disability rights programming. IFES will highlight ElectionAccess.org in a training module for the Building Resources in Democracy and Elections (BRIDGE) program, which connects election management bodies and civil society around the globe. The opportunity exists for ElectionAccess.org to reach beyond IFES and its programs through the BRIDGE training program.
ElectionAccess.org is a unique resource that has been targeted to serve the needs of DPOs and CSOs working to increase access in elections and political life, but it is being utilized by a wider audience. Ultimately, the goal of ElectionAccess.org is to provide information about participation of persons with disabilities both to persons with disabilities and to persons without disabilities around the world.
What is the potential impact of the innovative solution on the lives of the target audience? Please elaborate by providing statistics of the current impact and the potential impact.
ElectionAccess.org has the potential to change the way that people with disabilities think about and become active in political participation. Introducing key election stakeholders to disability rights, the website provides a platform for DPOs, election management bodies, and other stakeholders to share information, best practices and expertise on this topic. News articles posted on ElectionAccess.org highlight examples from around the world, including the Ubuntu Center in South Africa and a politician with a disability in San Marino.
ElectionAccess.org has a growing global audience. Although the greatest number of visitors are based in the United States, according to Google Analytics for October 1-December 9, 2015, increased sessions were evident in multiple countries. The biggest gains came from Pakistan (162% more sessions than the previous quarter), and Philippines (140% more sessions). Significant gains in number of session views also came from Myanmar (53% increase), Australia (50% increase), Kenya (33.33% increase) and Sri Lanka (32% increase). The number of pages visited by users per session increased by 2.84% over the previous quarter, and the bounce rate fell 3.73%. It is anticipated that as ElectionAccess.org becomes more widely known, the international audience will continue to expand.
Stories of how the Innovation has touched lives.
In 2015, IFES' disability rights programming also received two Innovative Practice Awards from the Zero Project, an initiative of the Essl Foundation. One award was for IFES's overall global work to support disability rights. ElectionAccess.org is an important component of that work. The awards provide a platform where the most innovative and effective solutions to problems that persons with disabilities face are shared with stakeholders worldwide.
“ElectionAccess.org is an invaluable resource for organizations involved in providing electoral assistance or observing elections.” – Andrew Bruce, former political officer, UN Electoral Assistance Division