January 12, 2011
Note: Here is a perfect example of a so called Accessibility Consulting Group not being in touch. Their recommendations on accessibility for Blind and Visually Impaired people is way off the mark, the Councillor has more sense. All the more reason that Accessibility Consultants should be regulated before they do any more damage, send them your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Town of Grimsby’s voting system meets accessibility requirements, but improvements can still be made.
The post-election accessibility report was presented during the Administration and Finance Committee on January 6.
Donna Herrington of The Donna Herrington Group is the consultant for the Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee and she made the following observations and recommendations: The “vote by mail” ballot system is not accessible to people with visual disabilities; ballots cannot be read or marked independently.
A recommendation was made that if using the vote by mail method, the town should explore availability of ballots in alternate formats.
A notice was placed in the local newspaper and on the town’s website advising “There are facilities to assist electors with visual impairments in the clerk’s office. Please call for an appointment.”
According to Herrington, this form of service to the visually impaired residents is sufficient to Grimsby residents at this time.
Alderman Carolyn Mullins questioned the report.
“If the vote by mail can’t be read, how can he ad in the newspaper be?” she asked.
Clerk Hazel Soady-Easton explained that for now this is a suitable option, and they may look into other options for the visually impaired in the future,
such as having those register for braille ballots.
Mullins also noted that other improvements could be made for accessibility.
“I think the signage could be improved,” she said, adding that the poling station had an elevator, but finding it could be difficult. She also suggested
that assistance for seniors be improved.
“I’ve heard some seniors say they had difficulty with the process,” she stated.
Soady-Easton explained that representatives did go out to the retirement homes and explain the voting process prior to the election.
Alderman David Finch feels that increasing accessibility will lead to more voters.
“Accessibility and getting people out to vote is important,” he said, adding that it may cost the town extra money, but it will be worth it. “Spending a
few extra bucks to make sure everybody has accessibility to cast a vote is important.”
Alderman Joanne Johnston feels that not having a town hall affected the voter turnout.
Reforms to the Municipal Elections Act, 1996 requires that 2010 Municipal Election voting places be accessible to voters with disabilities. accessibility
in the election process includes the following:
- 1. Candidates and electors with disabilities have reasonable access to all election information and services.
- 2. Persons with disabilities have full access to voting places.
- 3. Persons with disabilities have access to alternative methods of voting assistance that will permit them to vote independently and privately mark their ballot and, in the event their disability cannot be accommodated through such alternative methods the person will have access to assistance from an election official.
- 4. Election officials will have received accessible customer service training.
- 5. Feedback regarding the conduct of the 2010 election from disabled people is collected and documented so that in future elections, the needs of the disabled can be met.
Article ID# 2926657
Reproduced from http://www.westniagaranews.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2926657