According to the 2010 Census, 2371 persons were identified as vision impaired- that is having seeing difficulties even when wearing corrective lenses; and a significant portion of this population consists of potential voters who are entitled to the same rights as others to cast a ballot in secrecy.
Over the past three years, Vision Bermuda – formerly the Bermuda Society for the Blind – has been collaborating with the Parliamentary Registrar’s Office to develop a procedure by which those who are vision impaired / blind can make their mark for the candidate of their choice without assistance.
The procedure developed utilizes a Tactile Audio Device (TAD), specially designed to be used along with an audio labelling device. When voting, the TAD allows blind or vision-impaired voters to use their hearing and touch senses to mark the
candidate of their choice. Each candidate is represented by a label and a cut-out square.
When the audio labelling device touches the label, the name of the candidate is announced and voters are then able to make their mark in the corresponding cut-out square once they hear the name of the candidate they wish to select.
When testing the accuracy, usability, and privacy of the TAD, 100 percent of those using the TAD for the first time marked their ballots as intended, found the TAD audio labelling device user-friendly and were able to vote without assistance.
Pauleter Stevens, a Board member of Vision Bermuda stated: “Vision Bermuda has been working closely with the Parliamentary Registrar’s Office to provide independent and private voting for people who are vision impaired.
“We are excited to see this happen and now this population can cast a secret ballot a right experience and enjoyed by others.”
The TAD will be available at all polling stations throughout Bermuda as a result of a recent (July 2020) amendment to the Parliamentary Election Act 1978 allowing for the use of a Tactile Voting Device during an election. Do not worry if you are not familiar or know how to use the TAD prior to the Advanced Polling and Election Day. Vision Bermuda will offer training sessions leading up to the General Election. In addition, Returning Officers will be on hand to provide guidance if required.
This is a milestone for Bermuda. Bermuda can take the lead with the use of the TAD during an election as there are no other similar devices in the United States or the United Kingdom, other than a polling machine that allows persons to vote independently and in private. Vision Bermuda would like to encourage all those who feel they would benefit from
using the TAD, to ensure that they are registered to vote. You can register by visiting the Parliamentary Registrar’s Office located in the Craig Appin Building, 8 Wesley street, Hamilton or online at www.elections.gov.bm by Saturday, August 29th, 2020 at 5pm.