Overcoming Barriers to Civic Participation
Civic Sense Blog
An open, ongoing conversation about the accessibility of political and news media Web sites.
Visit the Blog

Twenty-eight million Americans with severe hearing loss to not have full access to information about political candidates and election issues. Through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, WXXI and its partners are experimenting with ways to overcome 21st Century barriers to civic participation.

First, WXXI and its project partners are launching this accessible Web site to adapt our regular elections content and allow Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing an opportunity to speak out about political or news media Web sites that represent the best, or the worst, in accessibility. We hope this becomes a national clearinghouse for the concerns of those trying to follow Election 2008 races, whether they be national, state or local.

Second, WXXI and its project partners are planning an accessible, televised political forum. We’ll show the candidates how to relate to an audience that is deaf or hard of hearing, and we’ll adapt our television production techniques to make sure the forum is accessible to television viewers who are deaf and hard of hearing.

When we conclude our experiment at the end of the year, WXXI will deliver a report about what we’ve learned to the Corporation for Public Broadcasters. This report will be shared with public broadcasters around the nation so they can incorporate our best practices into their civic engagement efforts.

WXXI is one of only five Public Media Innovation grants awarded in 2007.