On Accessibility in the Finalist Voting Phase

Posted on October 16th, 2020

Thank you to all those who have reached out to us over the past couple of days. We would like to apologize for our actions that inadvertently caused accessibility issues. We are working to correct those issues as best as we can, and we continue to welcome your feedback.

Running the awards is a balancing act between finding what’s fair for our nominees and what’s fair for our voters. Our current system is a culmination of the past eight years and what we thought was a tool to deter cheating unintentionally caused larger issues.

When considering any and all changes, we examine them to see if they are within our power, our means and if people can abuse them to gain an advantage in the awards. During our first few years, we learned that skipping categories can be abused by voters for one particular show to influence the results.

However, we do take accessibility very seriously. We understand the impact is greater than the intent. We ask that you please accept our apology.

Voting for every nominee in a category was suggested as an alternative to skipping categories in the event that the voter was unfamiliar with any nominees before the issues with accessibility were brought up.

We’d like to firmly state that it wasn’t our intention to prevent disabled and neurodivergent members of the community from participating in the awards. When there are specific things we can do, that does not create an unfair advantage, we have always tried our best to implement them. Best intentions aside, we recognize that this is a struggle that many fight with daily, and the responsibility to correct our actions is one we take very seriously.

We are aware that not every production is accessible, and we are taking steps to make our nominee showcase more accessible. We are adjusting our ballot with what actionable adjustments we can make for it to be more accessible.

  • We have reached out to the productions who sent us a nominee showcase this year for a transcript if they hadn’t sent us one already. This will be a part of the request for the nominee showcase moving forward, but we are dependent on the productions. If having transcripts gives nominees an advantage in the awards, we find that acceptable.
  • We made adjustments to the layout of nominees on the ballot, to hopefully make it more accessible by adjusting image sizes. Unfortunately, the ballot system that we are currently using has us balancing with the ballot being mobile-friendly. We will continue to search for a more accessible ballot that is mobile-friendly and offers ranked voting.
  • We’re aware the number of nominees can be overwhelming, and we have to balance that with being open for smaller productions to participate. If you are overwhelmed, you have always been able to save your ballot and continue it later. If you need to take breaks, please do.
  • We understand randomizing the order of nominees instead of alphabetizing them can make finding nominees difficult. We are balancing that against a natural bias humans have towards nominees at the beginning of the alphabet.
  • The ballot was verified to be compatible with screen readers, but we also have not heard one way or the other from voters who use screen readers. Please reach out to us at audioverseawards@gmail.com if you are having issues.
  • For the 2019 Awards, we experimented with not having a finalist phase, with full ranked voting. The feedback we got last year led us to bring it back. In re-evaluating it for accessibility, we have come to a unanimous decision to allow voters to skip categories in the finalist phase. However, to reduce abuse, we ask that if you vote in a category, compromise with us by selecting at least three nominees.

While we understand voters may only wish to vote for a particular show, we still encourage them to check out other nominees. Voting for every nominee has never been a requirement for the awards; rather checking out productions if you are unfamiliar with them is encouraged.

We want the outcome of the awards to be decided by voters who follow a variety of productions. Our adjustments to our system and the ballots we received have shown that we have been successful in making that happen.

If we can adjust things to make things more accessible, we will. If our changes for accessibility are abused, then we have to adjust and re-evaluate, but we hope that is not the case. Regardless, we will do our best to consider accessibility in all our decisions and maintain our open-door policy to listen to any concerns about the awards.

We exist because the community wanted awards that reflected the community – we do our best to achieve that. When we fail, we analyze why and we work to overcome and improve on the failings in our system. Please understand that our errors (both past and present) are not intended to be malicious, and we are working as quickly as possible with our current resources to evaluate, make changes, and adapt. 

-Colin J. Kelly

Chair, The Audio Verse Awards Team

A Thank You to the Community

The Audio Verse Awards is always indebted to you, the Audio Fiction Podcasting community, as without you creating and enjoying shows, we do not exist. 

We welcome feedback sent directly to us at audioverseawards@gmail.com or our contact form so we can discuss and respond as a team. Thank you to everyone who’s reached out to us, or sat down with us to talk. We appreciate you, and your passion for audio storytelling.

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