Everyone has a right to be heard. Accessibility and ease of use are key part to ensuring important democratic processes like voting are available to everyone. According to a report on CNN yesterday, one pair of parents in particular took this idea to heart.
Ned Batchelder and Susan Senator stood beside their son, Nathan Batchelder, last Thursday to pose for a picture after their son had finished casting an early ballot. This year, Senator had spent time putting together a guide called “Voting is really important. Here is how to do it”, to help her son participate in the midterm elections. Senator explained to CNN that her son “a pretty severe developmental disability and a lot of anxiety and communication issues, but he’s very eager to learn everything about the world,” and that during his last voting experience he felt very anxious and rushed. This time she set out to create a resource to help her son, and other individuals with autism, navigate the voting process.
Senator put together a nine-page booklet walking readers through voting. The booklet contains practice ballots, and reminders about candidates along with the positions they are running for. The booklet is to be read aloud by caregivers right before voting so the individual has an opportunity to practice bubbling the ballot and is reminded who the candidates are.
Senator has not been the only one who has recognized the need to educate individuals with autism about the candidates and the voting process. Michael Bowman, a senior development specialist for 3LPlace, has been working hard on putting together a nonpartisan lesson plan, with the goal of educating individuals where candidates fall on certain issues using a 5 point scale. Part of these efforts are motivated by the fact that some states have laws that voters be deemed “competent” in order to vote. These requirements sometimes have the side effect of silencing voters with disabilities like autism. Everyone has the right to be heard.
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