The Help American Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 mandates that people with disabilities be able to vote independently and privately. This mandate may involve machines that are either specifically designed as accessible alternatives, or are used by all voters but have mandated accessibility features.
Accessible voting machines should have the following capabilities:
- Options to make print larger and change color contrast
- Buttons that can be distinguished by touch and by color
- Audio output that can be used as an alternative or a supplement to the visual screen. Voters use headphones to ensure privacy
- Compatibility with hearing aids and a capability for adjusting output volume
- Alternate input for individuals who have limited or no use of their hands, usually implemented as a switch input system
- Controls that can be reached from a wheelchair
- Displays that can be seen from a seated position or by a person of small stature
Several voting machine models have been developed in response to these guidelines. Counties or districts usually pick one or two models to have available on voting days.
Contact your local election officials to learn about the capability of the machines used in your district. You may want to become an election day volunteer poll worker and receive training to assist voters with disabilities.
The American Association of People with Disabilities has a Disability Vote Project that includes advocacy and information on accessible voting technologies.