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Organisations in Torfaen team up to improve access for disabled people to polling stations

Torfaen County Borough Council (TCBC) is working with disabled people’s organisations to discover what can be done to help make its 70 polling stations more accessible.

Torfaen Access Forum, Sight Cymru and Disability Advice Project representatives have been working with the council to find out what challenges voters with disabilities may have when they vote at polling stations in the borough.

Caroline Genever-Jones, the council’s elections and business manager, said: “We are visiting polling stations to see what improvements can be made, both outside and inside. We want to make sure everyone’s experience of voting is as easy as possible. People with disabilities face different barriers and we can better understand needs by working with people with lived experience.

“Where possible we will add things like temporary ramps, lighting, signage, visual aids and hearing loops. The feedback will also help us improve staff training.”

Professor John Hunt, vice chair at Torfaen Access Forum, said: “It is important that people with disabilities have the same opportunity to vote at their polling station as people without disabilities. Even though there is the option of postal voting it is not the same as casting a vote into a ballot box. We have highlighted some difficulties getting in and out of polling stations and suggested some changes inside stations to help people with sensory issues. We hope this will help improve the experience for disabled voters.”

Esther Weller, Awareness Officer at Sight Cymru, added: “Voting can be stressful for people who are blind, have sight loss or a visual impairment. Often you need assistance, so it is reassuring to know staff are trained and can offer support such as a tactile voting device, a large print copy of the ballot paper and magnifiers.”

Professor Hunt also commented that many disabled people are unable to drive or undertake foreign travel. He said: “There is significant risk the voter ID requirements coming into force could disenfranchise disabled people with no passport or driving licence. This is clearly another case where the consequences of legislation for disabled people have not been well scrutinised. I sense another campaign coming.

“Torfaen Access Forum is run by disabled people for the disabled residents of Torfaen. We strive to use our lived experience of the barriers to participation, to help deepen the understanding of TCBC officers and councillors. We welcome the support and listening ears given by the TCBC elections team in this polling station consultation. Engaging constructively is the most effective way to achieve changes in infrastructure and in attitudes. We thank the team for this opportunity.”


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Organisations in Torfaen team up to improve access for disabled people to polling stations

four people outside a polling station with clipboards- one woman is in wheelchair
The group have been reviewing polling stations in Torfaen (Photo: Torfaen Council)