Get your own Little Black Book.

Build your own personal news stream. Discover the latest work created that interests you, share your favourite stories and follow your favourite people and companies

Already have an account?

Creative

‘Election in the Dark’: How Dentsu Helped the Visually Impaired to Engage with Democracy

Yahoo! Japan’s Tokyo election website for the visually challenged provided useful online content and challenged disparity of information access

‘Election in the Dark’: How Dentsu Helped the Visually Impaired to Engage with Democracy

On July 2, 2017, all eyes in Japan were on the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, which would decide the leadership of the nation’s capital city. In the lead-up to the election, on June 22, Yahoo! Japan Corporation and Dentsu Inc. jointly launched a website for providing relevant information to visually challenged voters. Called Kikoeru Senkyo, which means “audible election” in Japanese, the website provides information on campaign promises made by election candidates, responses to a questionnaire on policies endorsed by each political party, and a news column about the election. (To visit the website, which is only available in Japanese, please click here)

Why an election website for the visually challenged was needed
In Japan, 91.7% of visually challenged residents use the internet. To understand the text contained in websites, many visually challenged people get information from the internet via screen reader software, which reads the content aloud through a voice synthesizer. Screen readers cannot do everything, however; one weakness is the inability of such software to read images. That has led to problems in the past. For example, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications requires that each local government body use ‘image files’ in PDF format and provide information over the internet about campaign promises made by election candidates, which is an essential part of any election, but such files cannot be read by screen readers. As a result, over 110,000 seriously visually challenged people across the country have experienced difficulties in obtaining important information about elections online.

In addition, according to a survey of visually challenged voters ahead of the Tokyo election, respondents indicated dissatisfaction with the current status of obtaining election-related information, noting that despite a desire to get election news online, there were no websites that made it easy to find information about the election. Accordingly, there was a serious need for providing information about the election to visually challenged voters and correcting this disparity.

What does Yahoo!’s new website do?
To deal with the problem, Dentsu, together with Yahoo!, compiled all of the official campaign promises of election candidates into text format instead of PDF format, and made the content available via a microsite. If you look at the Kikoeru Senkyo election information website, however, it is completely dark, with no information appearing on menus or webpages. In fact, the election information is written in black lettering on a black background. That expresses the situation of visually challenged people who cannot obtain information about election candidates despite it being readily available to everyone else. As such, the website was designed for both sighted and visually challenged people with the aim of simultaneously raising awareness of the issue and offering a solution.

Sighted people who access the website will expect to see information about the candidate’s election campaign promises, but will actually experience the inconvenience of not being able to obtain the information, which is otherwise publicly available. In that way, the website was designed to imitate the situation of visually challenged voters to make people aware of that experience, and, hopefully, realise that this state of affairs represents a relatively unknown human rights issue. At the same time, even though the screen is totally dark, the website can be easily used by visually challenged people because it allows them to use screen reader software for reading aloud the content in HTML text format. In other words, by switching the places of the sighted and visually challenged users of the website, we aimed to offer a solution to and raise awareness of the inequality of access to election information online, which has been largely overlooked until recently.

Kikoeru Senkyo election information website is completely dark

When creating the website, the team at Dentsu were conscious of the need to design it to be easy to use by visually challenged users, so they incorporated ideas from relevant support groups and experts as well as visually challenged people themselves. During that process, they had them try using a mock-up of the website as they made improvements to its user interface and user experience. Along with making the website user-friendly for the visually challenged they also strove to offer a full range of content in addition to the campaign promises made by election candidates, including information about the candidates, a comparison of their campaign platforms, questionnaires on policies, and a news column about the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election.


Results of the website campaign
The initiative led to some excellent results.

After being featured in the mass media, the problem of disparity of access to election information by visually challenged voters was widely discussed on social networking services. Surprised by the growing interest in the issue, members of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly endorsed relevant policies discussed on the services and began addressing the need to eliminate the disparity. 

Eventually, all of Japan’s major political parties reached a non-partisan consensus and promised to eliminate the disparity of access to election information by visually challenged voters, marking the first step towards solving this problem.

Most importantly, the website received over 1.2 million page views over 10 days after its launch.

Explanation of the website's purpose

Credits

Name

Title

Company

Yoshimitsu Sawamoto

Executive Creative Director

DENTSU INC.

Akira Suzuki

Creative Director / Planner

DENTSU INC.

Kazuyoshi Ochi

Creative Director

DENTSU INC.

Togo Kida

Creative Director

DENTSU INC.

Kenta Isobe

Copywriter

DENTSU INC.

Masanari Kakamu

Art Director

DENTSU INC.

Ryota Mishima

Designer

BIRDMAN  inc.

Michihito Nishizaki

Account Executive

DENTSU INC.

Yohei Takahashi

PR Planner

Dentsu Public Relations Inc.

Kazuya Watanabe

PR Planner

Dentsu Public Relations Inc.

Eiko Shimada

Producer

Freelance

Takuro Ito

Director

BIRDMAN  inc.

Saki Togashi

Director

BIRDMAN  inc.

Takayuki Komatsu

Technical Director

BIRDMAN  inc.

Kazuki Nakata

Frontend Engineer

YAMA

Masanori Nagamura

Backend Engineer

BIRDMAN  inc.

Mayumi Morioka

Researcher

BIRDMAN  inc.

Koichi Suzuki

Producer

Yahoo Japan Corporation

Shinya Uchida

Creative director

Yahoo Japan Corporation

Jun Watanabe

Creative director

Yahoo Japan Corporation

Masami Goto

Engineer

Yahoo Japan Corporation

Kazuto Kitakado

Art director

Yahoo Japan Corporation

Kazuaki Matsumura

Planner

Yahoo Japan Corporation

Akihiko Maeda

Planner

Yahoo Japan Corporation

Chikasa Komazawa

Facilitator

Dialog in the dark

Akira Hiyama

Facilitator

Dialog in the dark

Yohei Seto

Facilitator

Dialog in the dark

Hojin Ishii

Producer

Niban-kobo Productions Corp.

Yoshimune Takamatsu

Producer

Niban-kobo Productions Corp.

Satomi Inagaki

Director

Connection Inc.

Ryo Takashima

Production Manager

Niban-kobo Productions Corp.

Nana Arai

Production Manager

Niban-kobo Productions Corp.

Sign up to our newsletters and stay up to date with the best work and breaking ad news from around the world.

Category: Corporate and social , Political

Genre: Apps , Digital , PR , Strategy/Insight