Shop RNIB Donate now

Could this be the most accessible election ever?

A visually impaired man with short dark hair, wearing a pink t-shirt with 'RNIB See Differently' written on it, stands next to a woman with shoulder length dark hair in a blue t-shirt. They're both holding a sign that says '#BlindVotersCount.'

Dawn Hopper and Joe Kenny want electoral candidates in this election to know that #BlindVotersCount.

Sight loss charity RNIB (the Royal National Institute of Blind People) in Northern Ireland, is calling on all electoral candidates to include people with sight loss as they campaign for votes ahead of the General Election.

It’s more than 150 years since the establishment of the right to vote in secret, but this right is still not afforded to many blind and partially sighted people once they get to the polling station. In the last General Election, only 13 per cent of blind people could vote independently and in secret.

How the parties can campaign accessibly

With so much of modern political campaigning now focused on social media, RNIB has launched an accessible social media checklist to enable political parties to make their online campaigning more accessible to voters with sight loss ahead of the election.

Basically, there are two simple things political parties and candidates can do to make online campaigning posts more accessible - add ALT text to images and use Camel Case in hashtags.

Dawn Hopper is 44, lives with sight loss and is an RNIB volunteer and the Chair of ‘Belfast See Change’ - a recently formed campaigning group, drawn together to bring about positive change for blind and partially sighted people.

Dawn said: “Belfast See Change came together as a group of like-minded people with sight loss wanting to make things better. I feel it’s ironic that voting, the one democratic way we have of using our voice to change our society, is still the one option not fully accessible to us as citizens with sight loss.

“I want election candidates to know that when you’re out and about canvassing ahead of this election, even the simple act of introducing yourself properly on the doorstep along with anyone else who’s with you, goes a long way to making someone with sight loss feel included. Remember, we might not see the branding or logos on clothing or leaflets so don’t assume we know who you are. Also, I’d like to call on all those standing for election, whether it be in this general election or local elections, make your manifestos and election literature available in formats like braille, large print, and most definitely accessible via your website.

“Think about it, we live with sight loss, how can we make informed choices about candidates or parties when we hardly ever get to read party manifestos, leaflets that appear through our door, or all those posters that I’m told are now mounted on every wall or lamp post.”

Accessible voting

RNIB is appealing to the next UK government in Westminster to finally make the necessary reforms to the voting process to allow blind and partially sighted people to vote independently and in secret. The sight loss charity has been meeting with parties ahead of 4 July as well as the Electoral Commission and the Electoral Office in NI, to ensure accessibility is at the core of both canvassing and voting in this election. We are pleased that once again, there is a voting helpline available so blind and partially sighted people can phone this either before polling day or at the polling station.

Robert Shilliday, Country Director, RNIB Northern Ireland, said: “If political parties wish to secure the votes of blind and partially sighted people, then an accessible campaign is essential.

“Voting is a fundamental right and part of living in democratic society.

More than 150 years after the right to a secret vote was made law, blind and partially sighted people are still having to share their vote. This isn’t good enough.”

Find out how you can take action and read information for candidates on how to campaign accessibly and become RNIB champions.

The voting helpline

The right to vote independently, and in secret, is a cornerstone of our democracy, yet up until now, many of the 57,500 blind and partially sighted people in Northern Ireland haven’t been able to vote independently or in private.

They instead have to rely on proxy voting, assistance filling in postal voting forms or the ballot paper at the polling station, by either a friend, family member, or complete stranger.

Voters can now call 028 9044 6611 to hear the list of candidates in their area, in the order they will appear on the ballot paper.

This will enable blind and partially sighted voters to listen either at home or at the polling station, and select their preferred candidate/s, using a tactile voting device or large print ballot paper also available.

The RNIB accessible social media checklist

This accessible social media checklist is a list of prompts and reminders for you to refer to, to ensure that you’ve done everything you can do to make your content accessible to blind and partially sighted people before hitting publish on your content.

It isn’t an exhaustive list of accessibility hints and tips, but we hope it provides a good summary. We have no doubt that accessibility will become an integral part of your social media content, if it isn’t already!


  • I’ve written alt text for all images.
  • In the copy, my image descriptions are written as: [Image description:…] on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
  • I’ve added image descriptions in the back end on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Threads.
  • For any links that pull through an image, I have added alt text in the caption on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
  • My Instagram post is live! So I’ve manually added alt text in the back end.


• I’ve edited our audio clip so it’s a short, subtitled video.


  • My hashtags are all in Camel Case and at the end of the copy.
  • I used only one hashtag. But, uh oh, it would be good to use more for reach! I’ve only used 2-3 and I’ve added them to the end of the post.
  • I’ve only used 1-2 emojis and I’ve checked their meaning in Emojipedia.
  • I’ve tried not to use emoji’s for bullet points, but if I have, I’ve used the same one throughout my copy.
  • I’ve shorted and personalised my links in and only used one link, with any extra links going in the comments/follow-up tweets.


  • My videos are subtitled with white text on a black background.
  • My videos are audio led or audio described.
  • I don’t think the audio description is clear enough, so I’ve also added a video description.
  • I’ve checked the features I’m using are accessible (like on stories or polls).
  • Where needed, I’ve added copy or descriptions to the features.


  • Alt text: Sometimes referred to as alternative text, is a written description which describes the visual details of an image.
  • Audio described: A form of narration that descries visual elements of a video, making it accessible to blind and partially sighted people.
  • Audio led: When a video sends the same message, both audibly and visually.
  • Camel Case: Capitalising the first letter of each word in a hashtag, to ensure that it’s read properly by screen readers. Image description: A written description which describes the visual details of an image. It serves the same purpose as alt text, but is placed in the body of a post, after the copy.
  • Video description: A detailed, written description of a video, describing the visual elements.

Find out more about how to make your social media accessible and read the full checklist.