Friday, November 03, 2006

Disability is no reason not to vote

With the 2006 election season climaxing next week, it is imperative that we all get out and vote. If you are a registered voter and have not voted early, remember to do so on Tuesday. With the advents in physical and technological access to the polls, there is no reason for anybody of voting age not to use this right so many Americans have given their lives to protect.

This year’s election is supposed to have a good number of the electronic voting machines in place. These machines were originally intended to automate and simplify the voting process so we might all avoid a repeat of the hanging chad showdown of the 2000 presidential elections. However these machines were also heralded as revolutionary because they also had the ability to employ a screen reader and let the blind voters cast their secret ballot independently.

Personally speaking, I’ve had some experience with the electronic voting systems in the past two elections, neither of which went well and resorted to me using sighted assistance instead of the speech output that was supposed to make these devices so landmark. However, I’ll gladly work through the hassles of staff who have only cursory training on the speech technology again to have my vote count, even if we can’t get the machine to work and have to revert to a sighted person helping me.

A good discussion of the movement towards disability access at the poll is titled, “I Can’t Sing and I can’t Dance but I can vote,” written by Cass Irvin. The brief essay can be viewed at
Fred’s Head Companion,
A blog from the American Printing House for the Blind.

The bottom line is that a disability should never keep somebody from voting. There is too much legislation that affects disability programs and funding. Please encourage your students to participate in the election process.

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