Politicians try voting in polling booth while 'blind' at Forth Valley Sensory Centre
A mock polling booth at Forth Valley Sensory Centre in Camelon allowed MSPs and councillors to cast a ‘vote’ while wearing special glasses that simulate different sight loss conditions.
To help them, they had a Tactile Voting Device – a thin transparent plastic template currently in use that fits over the ballot paper – and they were also able to try out a new audio voting device that reads out the names of candidates and where they are on the ballot paper.
The event, organised by the sensory centre in Camelon and sight loss charity RNIB Scotland, aimed to underline how difficult it can still be to vote in private and with confidence if you have a visual impairment.
Among the MSPS taking part were Stuart McMillan, Stephen Kerr and Gillian Mackay. They were joinged by Glasgow City councillors Robert Mooney, who himself has sight loss, and Jennifer Layden.
George Adam MSP, Minister for Parliamentary Business, said: “Everyone should feel confident casting their votes independently and in secret.
"Events like this, where voters can come together wtih politicians, policymakers and electoral professionals, will ensure we continue to improve the experience of those excerising their fundamental democratic rights.”
James Adams, director of RNIB Scotland, said: “Voting independently and confidentially is one of the basic rights of our democracy.
"But we know that blind and partially sighted people still experience problems doing so.
"RNIB Scotland and Forth Valley Sensory Centre have been working with the Scottish Government elections team and Electoral Commission in Scotland to explore alternative voting methods and how polling stations can be made better.”
Jacquie Winning, chief executive of the sensory centre, added: “The fact that blind and partially sighted people are still not equal in today’s society is a huge blot on our democratic process.
"We are looking forward to finding a solution that will finally help people with visual impairments vote independently and enjoy the same rights sighted people have had since 1872.”