Finland - Article 29

1.THE RIGHT TO VOTE AND BE ELECTED.

  1. Do visually impaired (hereafter VI) people suffer any restrictions to their rights to vote and/or to be elected? If yes, give details.
    Yes. Finland has no mechanism for voting in braille or using large print ballot papers. It is also possible to cast your vote in advance at home. In that case you have to prove your inability to visit your home polling station.
  2. During election campaigns what measures are taken to ensure that VI people are ensured full autonomy concerning the availability of information distributed by candidates, access to pre-electoral meetings, access to different campaign media?
    In election campaigns availability to information is easy for VI people if they can use internet and read newspapers in electronic form. Meeting are usually organised outdoors or in cafes so access to meetings is possible to VI people. The list of candidates is published in electronic form and in braille by the ministry of justice and distributed to VI:s by Finnish Federation of the Visually Impaired.
  3. Are special measures put in place to ensure that polling stations are accessible to VI people?
    Yes. In Finland polling stations are usually well marked and guideposts are easily to see.
  4. Within polling stations, what measures are taken to ensure that VI people can exercise their rights in an autonomous and confidential manner?
    For a person with a visual disability it is possible to have a trusted friend with him or her to help cast their vote. If a person with disability is not willing to use a trusted friend, there is an official assistant available at every polling station.
  5. In the case of proportional elections (by lists of candidates), what measures are taken to ensure that VI people can exercise their rights in an autonomous and confidential manner?
    See answer to 1.4.
  6. Are their measures in place to assist VI people in the polling booths and when casting their vote in the urns?
    No
  7. Are voting machines in place in your country? If yes, please detail how these are made accessible to VI people.
    Instead of list system we have a personal election one here in Finland.

2. PARTICIPATION IN NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS CONCERNED WITH THE PUBLIC AND POLITICAL LIFE OF THE COUNTRY, AND IN THE ACTIVITIES AND ADMINISTRATION OF POLITICAL PARTIES.

  1. Can VI people in your country participate in an unrestricted manner in political parties, unions, public and political organisations and associations?
    Yes
  2. Are their VI people in who have been elected to political, trade-union or associative office in your country?
    Some VI:s are very active on local level. At the moment we do not have any VI members of parliament.
  3. Do VI people in your country have unrestricted access to administrative office, including at top-level?
    Yes

3. FORMING AND JOINING ORGANISATIONS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES.

  1. Please give an overview of the number/type of associations or organisations representing VI people in your country.
    In Finland, the visually impaired have established a number of associations (14 regional and 10 activity related).The associations look after the interests of the visually impaired within their own areas and provide information services and arrange leisure activities. The federation formed by these 24 associations is called Finnish Federation of the Visually Impaired (FFVI). The aim of the Federation is to secure the blind and visually impaired an equal status with other Finnish citizens. The Swedish speaking minority in Finland has an independent organization for Swedish speaking VI:s.
  2. What is the role played by these associations in representing VI people?
    FFVI seeks to improve the capabilities and skills of the visually impaired, while also trying to influence the society at large. FFVI looks after the interests of the blind and partially sighted, provides guide dog training, is a specialist of rehabilitation from children to seniors and provides consulting regarding employment. This organisation provides also IT training and guidance, import, sales and loan of technical aids and production of braille, large-print and audio materials as well as the transmission of newspapers, magazines and other publications by means of information technology.
  3. How are VI people included in associations representing them?
    VI people are highly included in these associations and also the federation.

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