Vision Support Team simulates Voting with Sight Loss in Scotland
Pupils at Uddingston Grammar School in South Lanarkshire are to get a chance to find out what it’s like trying to vote if you’re blind or partially sighted.
The school is home to a pioneering Vision Support Team to assist pupils with various degrees of sight loss integrate into mainstream education alongside their sighted peers in the classroom. Established in 1982, the team of specialist teachers offer individualised support to pupils from across Lanarkshire, and further afield.
On November 16th third-year Modern Studies pupils will cast their vote in a mocked-up polling booth within the school wearing special spectacles that simulate different sight loss conditions.
They will use a tactile voting device, a thin transparent plastic template that fits over the ballot paper, guiding you to the box to tick for your preferred candidate.
The event has been organised by Haggeye, the youth forum of national sight loss charity RNIB Scotland.
Kerry Burke (18) from East Kilbride is one of its members. Kerry has the sight condition albinism, with nystagmus and photophobia. Now a sociology student, she was herself a pupil at Uddingston Grammar. Kerry also knows about standing for election; last year she was voted a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament.
“The Vision Support Team at Uddingston Grammar helped me when I was a pupil in countless ways,” she said. “It consistently encouraged me to gain and strengthen my independence, whilst also enabling me to find what works best for my level of vision.
“So it’s great they are hosting this accessible voting event as it gives Modern Studies pupils a chance to connect the unit within their school to a subject related to their course, the right to vote.
“It’s extremely important to grasp how difficult it can be for some people to cast their vote. And yet voting is vitally important to make sure your voice and opinions are heard, and has a real-life effect on the future. So pupils at Uddingston Grammar will hopefully appreciate this message on the day and be more motivated to register to vote themselves when old enough.”
Principle teacher Alison Morris said: “Our pupils care deeply about such things, and they have a strong sense of what is fair, what is right, and the value of each other in our school community. We are delighted to have Haggeye and RNIB Scotland working with us on this.
“Our pupils know about the importance of the democratic process, the value of their vote, and their right to vote from age 16 in Scotland. They are keen for other young people to know this too, and for it to occur in a way that includes everyone.
“The work of the Vision Support Team at Uddingston Grammar School has been important in this project, as has our Social Subjects Faculty. Self-advocacy is incredibly important for young people with sight loss, and we actively encourage pupils to have a strong and well-listened to voice, within the ethos of inclusion.”