Unity in the Disability Community Advances Accessible Election Technology

Disability advocacy groups in California are joining forces to make poll books accessible.

“We are fully on board with accessible check in at the poles”- Thomas Gregory Birkley center for Independent Living

At the Future of California elections conference Secretary of State Alex Padilla set forth his belief that “Voter Suppression is routed in white supremacy.”
Ever Lee Hairston, president, National Federation of the Blind of California 
asked “If the Secretary would give consideration to requiring that electronic 
poll books be accessible so people with disabilities don’t suffer voter 
suppression themselves?”
The generation of election officials serving between the years 2000/2008 left a legacy of accessible voting and polling places for people with disabilities. No that legacy is not complete everywhere, but it is getting better as time passes. 
This generation of election officials now has the opportunity to span the gap between the accessible polling place and voting machine with a electronic kiosk poll book that meets the 7 standards of accessibility set under the Federal 508 guidelines That can be their legacy. 
At the California Council of the Blind (CCB) conference engineer and voting technology expert Noel Runyan stated, “Where reasonable technology is available, all of the information systems
in the polling place should be accessible to voters with disabilities.” 
At its conference the CCB is taking up a resolution designed to make clear the organizations position that electronic poll books are required to be accessible to voters with disabilities under HAVA and the ADA. 
At the California Council of the Blind conference VOTEC’s accessible check in system called the Welcome Voter Kiosk received rave reviews from 98% of users during triples intended to gather further design information. 
The rank and file CCB members are speaking openly about the fact that VOTEC asked what the blind community wanted and then built their accessible Welcome Voter Kiosk to meet the requirements set by the blind and other disability groups. 
“Of course the entire election process including check in at the poles needs to be accessible any other conversation is a non starter with me.” Jeff Tom immediate past president and Chairman Government relations of the California council of the blind. 
The CCB voted unanimously in support of a resolution calling for the California Secretary of State to require that poll book check in systems be accessible to the blind and visually impaired as the law requires. 

Douglas George Towne

Chairman Disability Relations Group

 

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