Jamaican Advocates Learn How to Assess Polling Stations for Accessibility

IFES training participants measure the width of a ramp with tape measures in Jamaica.

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Participants of IFES' "How to Conduct a Polling Station Audit for Accessibility" training measure the width of a ramp with tape measures in Jamaica.

by Kailee Smart

From Oct. 7-8, 2021, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) trained disability rights advocates in Jamaica from the Combined Disabilities Association (CDA) on polling station assessments. The six participants learned about the features of an accessible polling station, how to use a checklist to determine accessibility and how to use the data collected. IFES senior inclusion specialist Rebecca Aaberg led the training, which was adapted to ensure compliance with COVID-19 protocols by limiting the number of participants and practicing social distancing.

The training included activities on the disability-inclusive electoral cycle to inform participants about the electoral process and provide context for why a polling station assessment should be conducted in advance of elections. As part of the training, participants conducted a practice assessment at the Jamaica Society of the Blind, where they learned about the elements that make a polling station accessible to persons with different types of disabilities. Using IFES' Polling Station Audit Checklist, participants documented hallway and doorway widths, restroom accessibility and ramp grades, among other building features.

“For me, it was fun. Now when I am called to a business, I will not just see if they have a ramp or not, but I will bring my tape measure.” – Man with a disability who participated in IFES’ polling station assessment training, Jamaica 

Under a current subaward with IFES in Jamaica, the CDA will conduct pilot accessibility assessments in Kingston, Portmore and St. Elizabeth. Results of the assessment will be shared with the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) and other electoral stakeholders.

Published on November 9, 2021.

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