Monday, April 7, 2008

Voting For the Disabled in Allegheny County

After last fall's election, the Americans with Disabilities Act-approved voting machines had a lukewarm reception by the area's disabled. Karen Simpson of the county's Elections Office says they've made some improvements this year.
The machines are meant to help the disabled vote independently, but they can ask for assistance. Geometric-shaped buttons help the blind, listening to options in headphones, make their selections. If they're having trouble, an assistant can listen in on a 'Y' line and guide the voter. The machine can be taken out of its casing and set on a low table or on the lap of a manually disabled voter. Sticks held in the mouth are also available.
Outreach efforts in disabled communities like the Three Rivers Center for Living have helped the county make the changes, according to Simpson. She says there are still seven locations that are not accessible, but they do have the ADA-approved machines.

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