Voting with a Disability in the UK

By: Daniella Jade Lowe

Voting with a disability can be quite a tedious but rewarding experience. We often suffer marginalised politics for a marginalised people.

The Electoral Voting Commission in the UK offers Accessible Voting for all. They endorse voting through accessibility videos: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/accessible-voting-for-all.

First of all, you must register to vote, but only once you’re 18 years old or older on the day of the election. In Scotland and Wales you can vote at age 16 or over.

You can register online or by post. However, you cannot vote online in any elections.

Physically challenged voters and wheelchair users can vote in person because all polling stations are wheelchair accessible. They also have the option of voting by post. As a wheelchair user, while living in Bradford as a student, I voted in person. I’ve also voted in person at the St. John’s Anglican church in Ilkley.

Vision Impaired Voters

Vision Impaired voters can vote through Tactile Audio Device Voting. The TAD is easy to use and utilize your hearing and touch senses to vote without assistance: https://bernews.com/2020/09/tad-voting-demonstration-on-saturday/?fbclid=IwAR0i7UY4PXPDUJ1uF95-w_F3QBogRtqDwOWq8jDPpgJqHn_ZmBiWyA8wF4k.

There’s also Proxy Voting in Wales. You can do this by asking someone to vote for you. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/898774/Apply-to-vote-by-proxy-due-to-a-disability-Welsh.pdf.

Hearing Impaired Voters

Unfortunately, according to my research, the hearing impaired want to be included in voting at the European Parliamentary Elections, through subtitles and sign language but are still fighting for recognition. https://www.eud.eu/news/real-rights-persons-disabilities-vote-european-parliament-elections/.

Deaf voters are demanding improvements. ‘No captions, no vote’, they say! https://inews.co.uk/opinion/no-captions-no-vote-why-deaf-voters-are-calling-for-more-accessible-campaigning-this-general-election-368084. This indicates that there is more work, by way of advocacy, to be done.

According to statistics, one in five British voters are disabled. So why does politics ignore us?

Austerity has been bruttal for disabled people. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/13/disabled-people-politics-brexit-election. This is why we need elections and voting.

Most politicians like to say ‘don’t vote, don’t complain.’

However the disabled community has every right to complain if they’ve asked for reasonable adjustments but get ignored every time.

Voting is about getting your voice heard. Voting is the starting point for political action. It’s about sharing political concerns, expectations and solutions. Disability voting is about tackling and dismantling oppressive systems of injustice. It is also about holding our politicians accountable. Voting should reimagine law enforcement, as well as reinforce disability justice, disability rights and disability advocacy.

The next step after campaigning and voting would be debating disability related issues. Canvassing is about relationship building. Canvassing will most likely highlight voters concerns. It is very difficult to debate sensitive subjects that you are passionate about like Euthanasia, without letting your emotions run high.

During my high school years, I had the privilege of participating in a political group called ‘Youth Parliament Bermuda.’ While on this team, I got a chance to debate various topics in the House of Assembly with other students. http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20070517/NEWS/305179917.

The Disability Union is also good at doing this for legal support (https://disabilityunion.co.uk/).

Netflix even has a disability revolution movie entitled, ‘Crip Camp’, which is a documentary about a groundbreaking summer camp which galvanizes a group of teens with disabilities, to help build a movement forging a new path towards greater equality. It also shows great impacts on disability rights and advocacy.

Also, voting and elections is about power. Purple is also associated with royalty. The reason why the colour purple is used to represent disability is because it’s about identity : https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-ouch-25767082. As a member of the Purple Vote Campaign, this is important to know.

Disability representation is important for inclusion, equality and identity. ‘DISABILITY VOTE MATTERS!’

Voting might be more difficult this year than at any other point in history due to global pandemic and lack of access to voting options. This is why we are raising awareness about voting resources, rights, and the importance of the disability vote. We need everyone involved to make positive change in our communities.

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About Daniella-Jade Lowe

Hello, My name is Daniella Jade Lowe. I am a PURSUN researcher and I am working on marketing myself as an Accessibility Consultant. Journalism and Politics are my passion. I have a BA degree in History and Politics. What type of disability do you have? At birth, I was diagnosed with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus which are neurological conditions. As a result, I use a wheelchair for mobility. What is disability to you? The only disability is a bad attitude. I have a disability. It doesn’t completely define me; it just enhances me in a way which differentiates and strengthens me. My disability should be viewed as an ability: to see the world in a different way. I don’t really like the term because sometimes it indirectly implies someone is dysfunctional or helpless. The most important thing is to never make assumptions. Someone with a disability can be very, physically, fit and strong, highly intelligent and articulate. What has been your experience from the time you remember till now? - positive and negative experiences. My life as a wheelchair user has been generally okay. Wheelchair Accessibility is frustrating. I was teased a little in school. Other than that, life is great. How do you cope with: -daily activities - your disability, do you have times when you are down - people's reactions towards you. I have carers, a Social worker, District Nurses, a GP, and extended family in this country. I am also in contact with a local disability charity in Yorkshire. I also have a friendly landlord. How do you keep yourself motivated? I must stay organised and practice good time management. I also prioritise my plans. What is your word or advice - to those with disabilities? - to the society Don’t let people put you in a box. You have a voice, use it. 10. Tell us about your platforms if you have any- Blog: The View from Where I Sit Facebook: Daniella Jade Lowe Instagram: @daniellajadelowe/@theviewfromwheresitblog Thank you!