Grace Eyre’s Our Voices team have done a lot of work around making voting more accessible.
We also have lots of experience hosting accessible election events with our friends at Brighton & Hove Speak Out.
Because of our experience hosting accessible election hustings events, Learning Disability England asked if we could create an accessible election guide in preparation for the upcoming general election.
“It is important for us to understand what is going on for us to vote. Otherwise if we don’t understand, we wont vote.” – Kirsty, Grace Eyre Trustee with lived experience
“If you don’t vote, you don’t have a say. Voting is democracy in action.” – Robert, Grace Eyre Ambassador
Here are some top tips from Cleo Dibb, Grace Eyre’s Our Voices Manager, on how to run an accessible election hustings for people in your community.
- Find a place that’s easy to find and easy get to by public transport, or car.
- Have disabled parking spaces close to the entrance. Have general parking available.
- Make sure it’s easy for people that use wheelchairs, or have mobility needs to get in. There should be ramps, elevators, and wide doors.
- Make sure the lights are not too bright, noises and smells are controlled and there is a quiet space, if needed.
- Make sure the bathrooms are easy to use for everyone and everyone is told where they are when they enter the building.
- Put up signs that are easy to understand so people know where to go
Website and Materials
- Make sure your website is easy to use and complies with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
- Make sure all your promotional material is in easy read and is available in other formats if needed. For example, some people might need large print, Braille, or electronic versions.
- Make sure your promotional material has all the access information people might need on it.
- Use hashtags and captions for videos so more people can know about the event.
- Make sure your marketing materials are consistent and look the same on each platform.
- Contact your local politicians and ask if they can attend the accessible hustings event. Tell them why accessible election hustings are important for people with a learning disability.
- Tell the politicians if other political parties have confirmed attendance – they are more likely to show up if they have competition!
- Ask the politicians to provide their manifestos in Easy Read or other formats beforehand, so they are available to the audience members.
MC’s, guest speakers and politicians
- Have a nominated person with a Learning Disability to MC the event, with support if needed. They will go through the agenda, introduce the politicians, keep time, and remind everyone of the rules. They will need to let people know where the toilets are, fire evacuation procedures and anything else that is good for people to know.
- Guest speakers with lived experience should be encouraged to speak. This is an opportunity to have issues specific to the Learning Disability community heard, such as accessible voting.
- It is always good to have a short presentation on peoples voting rights and the different ways people can vote.
- Politicians should be given an allocated time to speak. It is good for each political party to give a short speech to begin, before moving onto audience questions.
- The stage where the MC, guest speakers and politicians talk should be easy for everyone to get to, including people who use wheelchairs or mobility aids. The stage should have plenty of space and seating for everyone.
Hearing each other
- Make sure MC’s, guest speakers and politicians use microphones so people can hear them. Ask people to speak slowly and clearly.
- If you have a T-loop, make sure it is turned on.
If some people use British Sign Language, or Makaton, then hire an interpreter.
- Have an agenda of the event available on each table. Have regular breaks so people can rest or use the bathroom if they need to.
- The MC will make sure everyone speaks slowly and there is time for everyone to process what is being said.
- Provide different types of seats for people, including those who use wheelchairs and those with service animals. Have tables, if possible, with paper and pens where people can write down any thoughts or questions they have.
- Use big screens to show pictures and words. Give out easy read written copies of what’s on the screen.
- Have easy read manifestos on audience members tables, to look at.
- Have some quiet spots for people who need a break from noise.
- After the main speeches, give the audience some time to think up some questions they would like to ask.
- Politicians can spend some time amongst the audience whilst people think up questions.
- Tell people they can send questions in the post or online in advance if they want.
- Have a nominated person to support people to read out their questions.
- Have a portable microphone so everyone can hear the question being read out.
- Give each politician a short amount of time to answer the question, unless it is directed at a particular political party.
Different Ways to Answer
- Make sure politicians can answer questions in different ways, like speaking or writing, to help everyone understand.
- Make sure politicians are available after the event so anyone can ask them direct questions if they want.
- Have some time after the event to socialise with each other and use this time to ask how it went.
- Give people forms to fill out. Make sure the forms are in easy read, or available in other formats.
- Use these forms to make your event bigger and better next time!
We hope that your event is a big success!
Find out more
If you have any questions about this guide, please contact Cleo Dibb at email@example.com.
- Easy read guide to the main political parties
- Guidance on supporting people to register to vote
- Information on people with a learning disability’s right to vote