Did you all vote yesterday? I hope you all had a hassle-free experience, unlike the unfortunate heroine of our amusing new Perils of Polling video.
Now it’s all over and the dust has settled, I think it’s time we took stock of the democratic process in the UK and have a little chat about whether it’s as user-friendly for disabled people as it proclaims itself to be.
We’ve seen some very worrying news items recently, from wheelchair users being denied a vote due to inadequate accessibility arrangements at polling stations, to people with mental health, learning or cognitive impairments being confounded by the new voter registration system. It’s all rather depressing, isn’t it?
This is why we campaigned so hard to get these issues on the news agenda before the Election. In our view, the democratic process must be as easy and hassle-free for disabled people as it is for non-disabled people. Surely that’s not too much to ask?
Here’s item one on our agenda: make it compulsory for all polling stations to be fully accessible for wheelchairs, because right now – believe it or not – they’re under no legal obligation to do so. Item two: make sure that accessibility info for disabled people is available online, so they can make an informed choice about how and where they vote in future. As you know, we studied this topic and found that only three of the 50 most marginal constituencies had adequate access info for wheelchair voters online, and 88% had no info at all – plenty of room for improvement there, I think!
So, powers that be, the clock is ticking. You’ve got five years to make the democratic process accessible and dignified for all. Let’s all work together and get it right next time!