1.THE RIGHT TO VOTE AND BE ELECTED.
- Do visually impaired (hereafter VI) people suffer any restrictions to their rights to vote and/or to be elected? If yes, give details.
- 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?
No special measures are taken.
- Are special measures put in place to ensure that polling stations are accessible to VI people?
Polling stations are found in public buildings that have to be made accessible to people with disabilities not later than January 2016. Further, there is a public pick-up service for those voters with disabilities who so require.
- Within polling stations, what measures are taken to ensure that VI people can exercise their rights in an autonomous and confidential manner?
Since 1999 it is mandatory for elections at federal level (European parliament, Austrian parliament, president) that all polling stations provide templates for ballot papers, so there is no need for the blind and partially sighted to register in advance.
The cardboard template is folded in the middle and the A4 sized ballot paper is put in between so that the ballot paper's size is congruent with the template front size. The template's front side's upper right corner is cut off in a 45 degree angle to make sure the voter can check on the correct positioning of the ballot paper. The template's punched-out holes are located directly over the circles used for marking the ballot paper with a cross.
The templates are to be destroyed after the ballot is casted. For the 2010 presidential election 46,800 pieces were produced nationwide.
Furthermore, blind and partially sighted voters may choose a person for assistance in the polling both.
"§ 66. (1) Voting has to be done in person; the elections authorities have to supply ballot paper templates in order to make it possible for the voters who are blind or hard of hearing to cast their vote autonomously. Physically or mentally disabled voters or those with visual or auditory difficulties can be assisted in the casting of their vote by a selected third party and confirmed by them to the returning officer. Except in the cases described above only one person should enter the polling booth at any one time." (Source: Federal Law Gazette No. 471/1992 as amended by Federal Law Gazette I No. 43/2011)
- 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.
- Are their measures in place to assist VI people in the polling booths and when casting their vote in the urns?
See answer to 1.4.
- Are voting machines in place in your country? If yes, please detail how these are made accessible to VI people.
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.
- Can VI people in your country participate in an unrestricted manner in political parties, unions, public and political organisations and associations?
- Are their VI people in who have been elected to political, trade-union or associative office in your country?
No, not yet.
- Do VI people in your country have unrestricted access to administrative office, including at top-level?
3. FORMING AND JOINING ORGANISATIONS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES.
- Please give an overview of the number/type of associations or organisations representing VI people in your country.
The Austrian Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted (BSVÖ) is a self-help organization made up of seven regional associations and has about 5,000 individual members.
- What is the role played by these associations in representing VI people?
On the national level, the BSVÖ is working and lobbying for an inclusive and accessible society, while its regional associations are active on the level of the nine Austrian federal states.
- How are VI people included in associations representing them?
As a self-help organization the members of the BSVÖ are blind or partially sighted and decide who is a member of the associations' managing boards.