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?
This is patchy in practice. It depends to some extent on the whim of different political parties and authorities as to whether information about candidates and from candidates is readily available in accessible formats.
Are special measures put in place to ensure that polling stations are accessible to VI people?
The provisions of the Representation of the People Act 2000 included statutory requirement to make voting more accessible. Local authorities have to ensure that polling stations don't disadvantage disabled people. By law, every polling station must display a large print copy of the ballot paper for reference. They must also provide a reference copy for you to take into the booth with you. You must still cast your vote on a standard print ballot paper. Each polling station must provide a tactile device. The tactile voting device has a sticky backing, which attaches on top of the ballot paper. It has numbered lift up flaps (the numbers are raised and in braille) directly over the boxes where you make your mark. The candidates are in alphabetical order. You will need to remember the number of the candidate you wish to vote for. Then lift the flap with the same number and mark your cross (X) in the box. You can then detach the tactile device and fold your ballot paper in half before posting it in the ballot box.
Within polling stations, what measures are taken to ensure that VI people can exercise their rights in an autonomous and confidential manner?
Displaying a large print version of the ballot paper for reference
Provide a hand-held copy of the ballot paper to take into the polling station for reference
Providing a tactile voting device (this attaches to the ballot paper and usually includes lift up flaps above the boxes)
Allowing a companion or Presiding Officer to mark the ballot paper
Allowing postal votes on demand
- 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?
Are their measures in place to assist VI people in the polling booths and when casting their vote in the urns?
Yes, as above, allowing a companion or Presiding Officer to mark the ballot paper.
Disabled voters can request the assistance of polling station staff. They can help guide people between the entrance, desk, polling booth and ballot box. They can also vote on your behalf. If you prefer you may bring a companion with you who can do the same. This person must be an immediate family member over 18 years old or a 'qualified elector' - which means someone who is legally able to vote in a UK election.
People can also choose to vote by proxy or by post.
- 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?
- 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 UK VI sector sits under the umbrella of Vision2020UK. The following are members.
14. Deafblind UK
16. Fight for Sight
18. Guide Dogs
What is the role played by these associations in representing VI people?
Advocacy, campaigning, information gathering.
- How are VI people included in associations representing them?
It varies according to the organisation. They are members, campaigners, supporters, beneficiaries customers.