Residents Participate in Voting Technology Study
Fifteen residents of Cheshire Home recently participated in a study designed to advance the goal of universal voting accessibility for people with disabilities. The study, managed in conjunction with the Research Alliance for Accessible Voting, originated in 2012 in Illinois, Missouri and North Dakota, where data was gathered on the effectiveness of voter assistive equipment. Now expanded to New Jersey, Fred Tchang, Director of Assistive Technology Services for Advancing Opportunities in Ewing, and David Lam, the Technology Lending Center Coordinator, conducted the study November 13th onsite at Cheshire Home.
Mr. Lam, utilizing a portable voting booth, worked individually with residents, as they "voted" by using the AVC Audio Voting Key Pad. The pad is a hand-held device intended specifically to assist wheelchair-users when they go to the voting booth. It features large color-coded buttons that permit the user to activate an audio announcement of election campaigns. The campaigns, along with a list of candidates, appear on a screen and a prompter helps the voter proceed through the system untill all of their selections are made and entered.
This device is currently available at some voting sites in New Jersey, but Mr. Tchang indicated that most people with disabilities are not aware of this. Further, he said, "Hopefully this study will influence the next wave of assistive voter technology design., for a wide range of disabilities."
Our residents generally found the equipment to be user-friendly, and offered suggestions for future designs, such as a touch pad as opposed to color-coded buttons, increasing the size of the screen font, and developing a user voice-activated system. We were pleased to participate in this valuable study, and to be of service to Advancing Opportunities (formerly Cerebral Palsy of New Jersey), as they assist organizations and individuals throughout our state.