Making elections accessible for everyone

Although voting is a basic part of participating in a democracy, many people, including those with disabilities, face a variety of barriers to casting their ballot privately and independently.

Our goal is to discover new solutions that will make the entire voting process – from registering to vote to casting a ballot – accessible for every citizen.

In the first phase of this 3-year project, we began by researching the current challenges for accessible elections. Our consortium partners investigated the barriers to participation, reviewed current election technologies, identified innovative assistive technologies, and gathered other requirements from working directly with people with disabilities and advocacy organizations. We also held design workshops, collaborated with university faculty and students on a universal design course, and hosted an open innovation challenge that invited new ideas from engineers, designers, technologists and advocates in an open forum.

In the second phase of this project, we developed targeted solutions based on the lessons and insights we learned. In the spring of 2012, we issued an initial call for proposals and awarded research grants to develop promising concepts that have a significant potential to improve the accessibility of elections. In the summer of 2012, we issued a second call for proposals for additional R&D and funded four additional projects.

In the spring of 2014, we held a public event to conclude the grant and recap the accomplishments of our projects.

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