How we used Design Thinking to restore pride and independence for the visually impaired in the electoral process.

The right to vote is one of the basic and fundamental political human rights enshrined in the South African constitution. The specific barriers and challenges faced by visually impaired in exercising their right to vote are accessibility and inclusivity.

In the development of a Universal Ballot Template (UBT), a voting aid tool made of cardboard allows visually impaired voters to vote unaided in the elections. Modifications included considered tactile paper finishes and tear side to determine the front of the ballot paper and the left-hand side so that when it is fitted into the UBT it will be easy to identify the front and top of the ballot.

With the inclusion of brail as well as raised numbering – the elderly and dyslexic can also be able to navigate the ballot. Cut out windows help further identify the position of your preferred choice enabling one to count the windows to place their X mark. Human centred design thinking from font size, typeface, colour contrast, clarity of symbols and logos were pre-requisite factors to enable blind/partially sighted persons to enjoy their full citizenship rights on an equal basis with others.

The UBT includes features like raised numbering and tactile paper finishes, aiding not just the visually impaired but also the elderly, dyslexic individuals, and those with motor or nervous conditions. With numbered windows and clear design cues, it ensures inclusivity for diverse user needs, promoting equal citizenship rights for all.