Monday, May 2, 2011
Great things about being blind. Steps towards accessible voting.
this is a federal election day in Canada. I have voted in every election (federal, provincial, and municipal) since I was 18 and of legal voting age. I feel voting is a responsibility and a privilege. Voting has not always been easy for me. The first tool I used to assist me was a template. This is a cardboard which is placed around the ballot and has holes in it to mark where you should mark your x. The early templates were not labeled with braille or raised numbers and they were worrying in that ballots could slide around in them. Newer models like the one I used in the advanced poll the other day are much better but still not perfect. Last fall, when I voted in the municipal election, they had a talking voting machine. this was amazing. For the first time, I could vote completely independently. The ballot was slid into the machine, I put headphones on, blacked out the screen, and the machine talked to me and as I arrowed through my options, read the names and confirmed my selections before printing the ballot. The other day when I voted federally, the official had to come in and read the list of names. I have been asking for years for a brailled list of names at least to go along with the template, but this has not happened yet. I've heard that the provincial election in the fall will include talking voting terminals as well. Hopefully, the time will come soon when I can vote completely independently in all elections all of the time. I am optimistic. Things are moving forward. We just need to keep educating and advocating.