The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) mandates all countries in Europe to “guarantee to persons with disabilities political rights and the opportunity to enjoy them on an equal basis with others”. This includes the act of casting a vote, which is one of the most recognisable features of political life. Yet the standard model of elections practiced today – marking a favourite candidate or party on a paper ballot – excludes most of the 30 million European citizens with visual impairments from this core political right.
In 2018 EBU produced the AVA – Accessible Voting Awareness-Raising report on the Accessibility of Elections for Blind and Partially Sighted Voters in Europe.
This report looks at a specific section of political participation – the act of casting a vote – only from the perspective of blind and partially sighted (BPS) voters in 45 countries of Europe. The report is based on a review of the legal provisions for regular elections and referenda in 45 countries, on an Expert Survey within the European Blind Union (EBU), which yielded 24 responses, and on qualitative desk research to cover the remaining countries. This report concludes with the observation that the act of voting is not fully accessible in any country in Europe. Nonetheless, it showcases 26 good practices that can build a more equal, independent, and secret voting experience for BPS voters.