Disability campaigners criticise party manifestos

Disability campaigners have criticised the political parties for
not doing enough to make their manifestos accessible, even though
voting is set to be easier this year following changes made under
the Representation of the People Act 2000.

Tom Berry, national campaigns officer for charity Mencap, said
the act had strengthened people’s right to help while voting, and
welcomed the move to put logos on ballot papers which help identify

But he said the parties themselves needed to engage better with
the estimated 1.4 million people with learning difficulties in the

“We would like to see candidates using materials, posters and
leaflets with large fonts and more images,” he said.

The act allows people with disabilities to have help from a
carer or friend while voting, and demands provision of large print
ballot papers at polling stations.

Learning difficulty charity The Elfrida Society complained that
too many party political manifestos used jargon, long words and
text too small to read. Manifestos produced by the Liberal
Democrats and Green Party were praised for larger text, headings
and easily understood messages.

The Royal National Institute for the Blind has welcomed the use,
for the first time, of a template to assist blind and partially
sighted people to cast their vote.

“It is the first time blind and partially sighted people will be
able to vote independently,” said a spokesperson. But he said there
were still issues of accessibility around postal voting and party

The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) is backing the ‘Polls
Apart’ campaign, which encourages voters and candidates to check
out the accessibility of their polling station. Their findings will
be published in July.

“If a candidate makes their material accessible, but the polling
station is not, or vice-versa, then democracy isn’t working,”
said a DRC spokesperson.

Volunteers to help in the Polls Apart survey visit www.pa3.org.uk




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