There comes a point sometimes as a blind person, where you just have to accept that something is inaccessible, and moreover, there is little or no chance of it being fixed.
I’ve reached that point with voting. We do not have an equal experience as blind people and no one is in any hurry to change it. Yes, we have the template but as I have said many times before, it is not fit for purpose.
Take today for example. I arrived at my local polling station in two minds whether or not to use the template However, I was greeted in a very loud voice, probably a good 20 decibels louder than that used for other voters with the words “Do you want the … er … thing for partially sighted?” I guess that meant the template.
At that point I made a snap decision. I was tired and wanted to be sure that my vote was cast correctly. I presumed that the polling station staff had little knowledge of the template as they didn’t seem to even know what to call it! So, I said I didn’t want the template and could someone fill in my form for me.
This was done with very little fuss and I hope my cross was put in the right box but I’ll never know. I also waived my right to a secret ballot by telling the member of staff where to place my cross.
Yes I could have used the template but it relies on the fact that it has to be fixed to the form and lined up correctly. It then relies on my making a mark with the pencil that can be seen. All things over which I have no control or influence.
Until someone actually makes the Electoral Commission believe that this system is not enabling independent voting for blind people, nothing will change. Currently, blind people, along with those who represent us are not prepared to stand up and be counted. They seem happy to go along with the status quo.
I sometimes feel like a bit of a loan voice in the wilderness over this one. Maybe people feel differently this year, I hope so. Maybe it’s time I started to make some noise again.