Visually-impaired Georgians prepare to hit the polls
“We need to make sure we do elect people who are going to represent us and listen to our cause.”
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Election Day can be stressful for anyone, but it can be completely overwhelming for someone who has a disability. Organizations that work with people who are visually impaired say election day can be so stressful, some people decide not to vote.
”The first governors race with Stacey Abrams. That was the first time I voted blind,” said Saving Ven with Visually Impaired and Blind Society.
Saving remembers the last time she voted before losing her eyesight.
“It was easy. Pretty simple. Just waiting in line of course,” she said.
And the first time she voted after going blind, at 41 years old.
”I was kind of anxious, and nervous because I didn’t know how it would go. I went alone,” she said.
Ven cast her ballot easily and says she has had that same positive experience every year since. But she says “voting day ease” has not been everyone’s story.
”Some people do say it is stressful. I guess it just depends on where they live. If it is too busy, and they have to wait or there is not enough help...it could be very nerve-wracking,” she said.
The law requires that polling places are accessible to people with disabilities. In Georgia, voting machines have different modes, for a seated voter, there is a visual mode, an audio mode, and a tactile mode.
Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation is trying to make sure that the people they work with, understand the resources and rights they have at the polls. The organization provides access to proper eye care for people who are underinsured, uninsured or have visual impairments.
“There are a lot of things that are in place already. What happens, is we find, is people don’t know about those things,” said Lori Miller with Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation.
Other organizations, tell me accessibility is still an issue. Transportation to and from the polls, navigating the polls without someone they know and trust, and understanding how to work with technology when the person has vision issues, can all become barriers that keep people with disabilities from voting.
Groups are encouraging visually impaired Georgians that there is support and that their voice matters.
“As a community, we are already kind of forgotten,” said Saving, “We need to make sure we do elect people who are going to represent us and listen to our cause.”
Visually Impaired and Blind Society is offering to help visually impaired people navigate the polls on election day. You do not have to go alone. You can contact them at: 770-609-7439
If you are a person with a disability and have an issue at the polls on election day, you can call the Georgia Advocacy Office, and ask to speak to a resource advocate: 404.885.1234.
If you are a person with a disability and want to share your experience on election day in Georgia, email reporter and community storyteller, Sawyer Buccy at firstname.lastname@example.org
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