News / Toronto

Toronto looking for feedback on how to improve voting for visually impaired

With a year to go until the next municipal elections, the city wants to know how ballots can be improved for the visually impaired.

The city is looking to improve the experience for people who are visually impaired ahead of next year's vote and has scheduled a Nov. 15 information session on ballots.

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The city is looking to improve the experience for people who are visually impaired ahead of next year's vote and has scheduled a Nov. 15 information session on ballots.

For most people, a municipal election just means turning up and ticking a few boxes. But for the visually impaired, it can be an ordeal.

“Depending on the ballot, one person’s condition might make it easy to access, but for another person it might not be,” said Kat Clarke, leader in advocacy with the Canadian National Institue for the Blind (CNIB) Ontario. “There are many barriers they face.”

The city is looking to improve the experience ahead of next year's vote and has scheduled a Nov. 15 information session on ballots. CNIB is urging people with sight issues to make their voices heard.

Carole Boughannam of Election Services said the city tries to take feedback from its Accessibility Outreach Network — which started in 2010 as part of the Election Accessibility Plan — four or five times in an election year.

“Maybe it’s time to look at it, refresh it, see what we can do better,” she said. “Things like what font size do we use, the colour contrasts, are the instructions clear enough? As we bring it to the table, others issues might become clearer.”

The city's election plan includes a “How to Vote” booklet in more than 25 languages in both print and braille. The city also provides touch screen and audio-enabled Voter Assist Terminals, where voters can use braille keypads, sip and puff devices and rocker pedals to help them make their choices.

But things can always be improved, Clarke said. For example, she said, braille is great in theory but not all blind people can read it. It’s striking the right balance, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, that her group will push.

If you go:

For details on the Wednesday ballot session, email accessibleelections@toronto.ca.

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