You have a right to vote-how we help our sight loss community
At Henshaws, we believe that everyone should be given every opportunity to cast their vote. In this latest blog from the team, we talk about how we support councils with transcribing voter forms into Braille format. We also discuss some top tips for voting if you are visually impaired.
On Thursday 5th May, 146 councils in England will be holding local elections.
The 2022 local elections are an opportunity for voters across the country to make their opinions known on how they want their local issues to be managed. Local elections take place every year during the month of May with different seats, positions, and bodies up for grabs. Having a say on who you want to take charge is so important, and at Henshaws we work with several Greater Manchester Local Authorities to make the voting experience at the polling station more accessible.
At the 2019 General Election, only 44% of people registered sight impaired, and 13% of people registered severely sight impaired, were able to vote independently and in private. This means that many visually impaired people were unable to cast their vote independently, without anybody knowing how they voted.
We have a long history of supporting elections through our braille printing service.About braille printing
How we support
Here at Henshaws, we transcribe documents into braille and large print. Whether it be a single document converting, or a large batch of documents to transcribe, we can help with our efficient and expert professional services.
Working closely with Local Authorities, we have transcribed election cards for each ward in specific areas which allows for people with sight loss greater independence when casting their vote.
We hope that in the future, more local authorities reach out to Henshaws for Braille printing services and practical support through our visual impairment awareness training service (VIAT).
We support people to help make an informed decision on who they want to vote for by offering braille polling information for Councils.
Top tips to make your voting experience better
• Make sure to mention your sight loss to the person on duty in the polling station.
- Request a large print or Braille ballot paper, depending on your access needs.
• You can ask the Presiding Officer to read out the instructions on the ballot paper and the names of the parties and candidates in the order that they appear on the ballot paper.
• You can tell the Presiding Officer, in the privacy of the polling booth, how to mark the ballot paper on your behalf.
• If you have difficulty completing the standard print ballot paper, you can use a tactile voting device to help mark your vote in the correct place. Each polling station is legally obliged to provide a tactile voting device for people with sight loss.
• You can also ask if you can use a device such as a video magnifier or mobile phone to help you to vote independently. While the Cabinet Office have told all Returning Officers they can allow this reasonable adjustment, it is the decision of each individual Returning Officer as to whether to allow this.
• If you have chosen to vote by post you can also request assistance at home, including a tactile voting device, a large print ballot form for reference, and help with returning your completed ballot form. Contact your Local Authority for details.
• You can ask someone to come to the polling station to help you if you need any support. Your companion must be either a close relative or a qualified elector. A close relative is a father, mother, brother, sister, spouse, civil partner, son or daughter if they are aged 18 years or over. You should ask the permission of the Presiding Officer to be assisted by your supporter.
Further reading links
Government advice on voting (how to) https://www.gov.uk/how-to-vote
How to vote by the BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-60902072
About your voting options https://www.gov.uk/browse/citizenship/voting
Learn more about the RNIB voting rights campaign https://www.rnib.org.uk/sight-loss-advice/equality-rights-and-employment/voting-and-elections-what-you-need-know
You can also visit www.electoralcommission.org.uk or contact the electoral services department at your local council to find out more.
Wherever you are in the world, you can access our Knowledge Village, our online resource which features various videos about Braille, as well as lots of other information about living with sight loss, in the form of blogs, videos and eBooks. You can sign up to our Knowledge Village mailing list for frequent updates about our latest content.
We can't do it without you
Henshaws rely on voluntary donations; our work just wouldn’t be possible without people like you. Your support empowers local people living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to increase their independence, achieve their dreams, and go beyond expectations.