Will use Voter Assist Terminals in Oct. 25 municipal election
Monday, August 23, 2010
Voting in municipal elections in Ottawa is about to get much easier for people with disabilities.
Machines that allow people with disabilities more independence and privacy while voting will be introduced in this fall’s Oct. 25 election.
The new voting machine, called a Voter Assist Terminal, has a high-contrast touch screen with a zoom function to enlarge type size. It also has tactile
buttons with Braille on them; a sip/puff device for people with limited
mobility; a rocker paddle; and an audio function that enables voters to hear
the choice of candidates through headphones.
Penny Leclair, who is deaf and blind, has been waiting for just such a machine so that she could start casting her vote by herself.
“I feel very positive,” said Leclair. “I don’t feel special. I feel normal. I can actually make an independent – and when I say independent, I mean
without any assistance – . vote on that machine without any help.”
Leclair says the new terminals take the guesswork out of voting.
“I always walked away and said, ‘Well, I voted, but I hope I did it right’,” she said. “This way, I know I did it right. I know the selection I made, and
I know it’s there.”
The machine caters to people with different types of disabilities.
Leona Emberson also tested out the machine on Monday.
Emberson is partially blind and says the terminals are a step forward for all people with disabilities.
“It’s a fundamental right for all Canadians to be able to vote, independently and securely and secretly. So, this just gives me the same
rights that any other Canadian [has],” Emberson said.
The machines will be at 168 polling stations on voting day and at the two advance polls – Oct. 2 and Oct. 14 – and all voting locations will be
accessible to disabled people, said Cathy Bergeron, elections manager for
the City of Ottawa.
“Our staff in the elections office have gone out and done site checks for every elections location to ensure that each location is accessible to all
voters,” said Bergeron.
The new Voter Assist Terminals will be demonstrated this week at shopping centres across the city.