Biden for President: Ensuring constituents of all abilities could access voter information
Biden for President was Joseph R. Biden, Jr.’s official campaign for the United States 2020 presidential election.
Deputy Chief Technology Officer, Laila ElGohary explains that it was critical for their digital experience to be usable and accessible by as many people as possible:
“During the campaign, we got to a point where we realized our site wasn’t serving us as well as it could. We had back-end developers on our team who’d built out a range of tools for the campaign, but in order to get this critical, external-facing piece correct, we knew we’d need expert guidance.”
The campaign partnered with Perkins Access and promptly got to work – because time was a critical factor.
“Campaign speed is very different. Everyone is working seven days a week, nonstop. You’re building things very quickly in unique circumstances – scaling up in under a year, all over the country, in the public eye. And there’s no room to push a product launch. ‘Day zero’ is election day.”
“When we come in, we come in fast and hard. We were a handful at first,” ElGohary laughed. “Essentially, we asked, ‘Can you start this second?’ No one was expecting that, but we said, ‘We need something by Sunday.’ I don’t know if Perkins Access knew what they were getting into!”
The work was fast-paced and intense – but the commitment on both sides to teamwork, flexibility and communication made for a successful partnership. “We didn’t know what we didn’t know. Having our engineers tap into the Perkins Access team’s knowledge was so important.” ElGohary said.
“It wouldn’t have helped to just have someone say, ‘You need to make this more accessible in this way.’ We needed explicit guidance – and Perkins Access was there, down to providing the specific code snippets we needed to get things done.”
The process also required clever thinking and inventive solutions.
“Flexibility in understanding our constraints was also really important. Folks sometimes forget the unique pressures and how different this is from other organizations,” said ElGohary. “In most cases, we can’t just tweak a logo or leave out a piece of information or opt for a different format. There were some moments where we couldn’t have taken a recommendation outright without making national news, so there were a lot of conversations about creative ways to maintain accessibility within those boundaries.”
Perkins Access partnered with the campaign team to provide iterative digital accessibility guidance for the Biden for President website and mobile app, ensuring that constituents of all abilities could access vital voter information.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to Perkins Access for keeping us honest and making us better. We could not have done this without them. And I don’t say that lightly,” ElGohary said. “I would absolutely recommend working with Perkins Access – it was such a pleasure.”