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Voting / Elections

Audience: Voting
Runtime: 1.10 min.
Focus: Colin Phillips on communication access when voting

The following information is intended to provide a starting point to improve access to services for people with speech and language disabilities (SLDs), not caused by hearing loss. It is by no means a full comprehensive list of barriers or accommodations. It presents some of the unique challenges that people with SLDs may experience within this situation.

Contact us for more information on making your services accessible.

Sample communication access barriers when voting

Many of us who have Speech and Language Disabilities (SLDs), experience the same barriers as people who have mobility, sensory and other disabilities. In addition, we may experience unique communication barriers due to our speech and language disability. These barriers may include:

  • Election officers and staff not knowing how we communicate
  • Lack of needed support to assist with reading and marking the ballot
  • Lack of information about accessibility accommodations offered at voting stations
  • Restriction from using our preferred method of marking a ballot such as our own device, switches or assistant
  • Too few locations that have accessible, assistive devices for voting
  • Polling stations not have the access methods we use to mark our ballot independently (e.g. switch, type of speed of scanning) or the information displayed in ways we can see and use
  • Inability to use the internet or telephone to vote

Suggestions for Election Officials

In addition to generic communication access accommodations, people in voting stations should have:

  • Training in how to communicate, negotiate accommodations and assist those of us who have SLDs when voting
  • Provide us with information about accessible voting options that address our needs in terms of reading, understanding and marking their ballots
  • Make internet voting accessible for those of us who have SLDs so that we can use our customized interfaces on our home computers and devices

Resources for people who work in voting stations

Suggestions for people with SLDs

There are things we can do to ensure that we can vote in elections. For example, we can:

  • Find out about the accessibility accommodations offered in our local polling station. Check out the elections office (e.g. Elections Ontario)
  • If we require accessibility accommodations, we can check to see if what we need is available in our area
  • If we require someone to assist us to read and mark our ballot, we can ask someone we trust and who will keep our information confidential
  • We can carry a communication access card with us that explains how we communicate and what people can do to make communicating go more smoothly
  • If we require assistance from an elections officer, we can bring a note telling them what we want them to do; how we will make our selection and asking them to mark it for us
  • If we decide to vote by mail, we can apply for the special ballot kit on the website and send in our vote by the deadline
  • If we need to go to another voting location to use their accessibility devices, we should tell our local office to have our name put on the voters list in another location

Resources for people with SLDs