A charity based in Manchester is supporting the people of Salford living with sight loss by providing braille transcriptions of ballot papers.

The provision of a braille ballot makes the voting process accessible to those with sight loss, meaning they are able to vote independently. Henshaws Society for Blind People have supported people living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to achieve their life goals and go beyond expectations since 1837.

They said: “Making the voting process as accessible as possible to people with a visual impairment is so important, allowing people living with sight loss the opportunity to vote independently.

“Without additional measures being put in place, a blind person would rely on the help of someone else meaning that their vote isn’t secret.”

Infographic by Elisabeth Mcgloughlin

When Salfordians go out to the polling stations on Thursday (May 6th 2021), voters with visual impairments will be able to use one of the transcribed ballots to cast their votes.

Using a Braille printer, Henshaws have been able to transcribe ballot papers into Braille for the areas of Salford and Trafford for the upcoming local elections. They said: “We are pleased that two local councils have taken this extra step to ensure accessible voting for people with sight loss.

“Using specialised software, we are able to translate plain text into Unified English Braille (UEB), which is then embossed onto card which creates the raised tactile dots of the Braille language.”

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) have been urging local authorities to make the electoral process accessible to blind and partially sighted people. These vital ballots are not available nationwide, meaning people living with sight loss cannot vote independently.

For issues with voting, contact The RNIB on 0303 123 9999 and for advice or support on living with sight loss contact Henshaws on 0300 222 5555.

Photo Credit: lissalou66 via Flickr https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

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