South Lanarkshire School Election Highlights Sight Loss Challenges
Pupils at a South Lanarkshire school experienced the challenges voters with sight loss face when casting their ballots.
The mock election, which was held at Uddingston Grammar School on Friday 24th November, was organised by RNIB Scotland, in collaboration with South Lanarkshire Council and Haggeye, RNIB Scotland's award-winning youth forum.
Pupils were given the opportunity to try on sim-specs (glasses which simulate different sight loss conditions), and then attempted to pick up a ballot paper and vote in secret. They were also introduced to some of the tools blind and partially sighted people use to make voting easier.
The event was held to highlight the importance of making local democracy accessible, as well as to promote the work of Haggeye, which campaigns to raise awareness of issues that affect young people with sight loss.
Blind and partially sighted voters often face barriers when it comes to the right to vote independently, and subsequently struggle to have their voice heard.
Haggeye has two permanent Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament, where they can raise issues that are important to them. The group also publishes an online newsletter, which was launched in July 2023.
Uddingston Grammar School has a Vision Support Team, which supports pupils of Secondary School age who are on Specialist Placement at the school because they have a moderate to severe visual impairment.
Nicola, a Haggeye member said,
"I’ve been buzzing all week about this event, and now that I’m actually here I’m still buzzing!
“I’ve really enjoyed this voting event."
Georgea, a Haggeye member said,
"I found it quite interesting watching the pupils casting their ballots and asking them how they found it.
“I’ve had a lot of different answers, like “oh, it was really difficult” or “I didn’t realise I would need to do this to be able to vote”.
“Also, it was really interesting to see how much help they needed from their guides.”
Ronnie Crichton, Youth Participation Officer for South Lanarkshire Council said,
“As a Youth Participation Officer, I support and understand the importance of young people being involved in all aspects of local decision making.
“An important part of this is how we ensure all young people are included and removing barriers to participation.
“Supporting my colleagues from RNIB Scotland and Haggeye to run mock paper elections for young people with visual impairments is a perfect example of this. The pupils have a real voting experience just like any national or local election.
“It's just brilliant seeing many young people being involved in local democracy and supported to enjoy their right to be included.”
We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
Every six minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. RNIB is taking a stand against exclusion, inequality, and isolation to create a world without barriers where people with sight loss can lead full lives. A different world where society values blind and partially sighted people not for the disabilities they’ve overcome, but for the people they are.
RNIB. See differently.
Anyone facing a diagnosis of sight loss or changes to their condition is encouraged to reach out to the ECLO service and RNIB for support.
For further information, please contact Rory Paterson at RNIB Scotland on [email protected].