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People with vision disabilities demand e-voting in Switzerland

Rear view of person with blindness disability using computer keyboard and braille display

The Swiss Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (SBV) is advocating for the swift implementation of electronic voting systems, aiming to eradicate existing disparities faced by people who are blind or have low vision when participating in voting and electoral processes.

The absence of digital accessibility currently marginalizes hundreds of thousands of individuals with disabilities, the SBV said.

As the SBV emphasized in a media conference on Tuesday, digitalization has permeated nearly every facet of daily life and continues to evolve at a swift pace. Consequently, it is imperative that digital products and content maintain the same level of accessibility as their physical counterparts, to foster inclusivity and equal opportunities for all.

The existing accessibility gaps mean that a considerable number of products, websites, apps, and everyday services like ticket machines are either inaccessible or difficult to use independently for many individuals. This situation sharply contradicts the stipulations of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Switzerland endorsed in 2014, as well as the provisions of the 2004 Disability Equality Act. These barriers present substantial obstacles for affected individuals, severely limiting their opportunities for participation in numerous daily activities and engagements.

“One of the most objectionable deficits is the lack of accessibility for blind people and people with vision disabilities in terms of exercising their right to vote and to be elected, as well as the protection of their voting secrecy,” said Roland Studer, President, SBV.

The 2023 parliamentary elections must be the last elections that are not barrier-free, the SBV president added. The same also applies to signature collections, which should also be made possible electronically, according to the SBV, reports swissinfo.

Under the title “Digital Accessibility. Now”, the association is initiating a public awareness campaign targeting the wider population, with a particular emphasis on the realms of business and politics. The campaign underscores the vital principle that success can only be achieved if accessibility considerations are integrated from the initial stages of development and planning.

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