National and Devolved Politics

21.08.17

Reforms to make voting easier for visually impaired people

New reforms will make voting for people with visual impairments easier, as authorities will now be able to use records of voters to assist them with voting – provided the person’s consent has been given to do so.

This will mean that people with visual impairments will have access to wider services which will assist them with voting at any future elections and allow authorities to send accessible voting information to residents.

It follows the Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI) form being launched by the Department of Health last week, making the (CVI) process more effective as people who are newly certified as sight impaired or severely sight impaired will receive support as soon as they need it.

“Our reform of the CVI will mean that, for the first time, local authorities will be able to contact those who hold a CVI in order to ask whether they need any extra help or support when it comes to registering to vote, or participating in our elections,” said Chris Skidmore, minister for the Constitution.

“We want to ensure that our elections are as accessible as possible, and to remove any barriers that exist to democratic participation – every voice matters and we want ours to be a democracy that works for everyone.”

And Fazilet Hadi, deputy chief executive of the RNIB, an organisation protecting the rights of people with sight impairments, also supported the change.

“This is a really important step forward for blind and partially sighted voters,” she commented. “Our 2017 voting survey revealed that only one in five said they got information such as polling cards in a format they can read.

“Enabling local authorities to send accessible voting information directly to blind and partially sighted people will make a huge difference. Equal access to voting starts with an accessible polling card.”

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