I have an opinion, let me vote!

24 September 2018

Tomorrow, the world will be celebrating the third anniversary of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)! At the European Disability Forum, we are also celebrating by publishing a series of articles, highlighting how the SDGs are critical for persons with disabilities. Today, we will focus on Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institution.

Goal 16 includes the right to vote and to fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others. John Patrick Clarke, EDF Vice-President and previously Down Syndrome Ireland CEO and President of Down Syndrome International, developed an educational programme about the political process for persons with intellectual disabilities. This programme had since been disseminated in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Hungary and Malta under the form of trainings. It is now called “My Opinion, My Vote” and it is being led by Down Syndrome Ireland. These trainings have been created for persons with intellectual disabilities.

In Ireland, persons with intellectual disabilities are entitled to register to vote only if they received an education. To be allowed to vote, citizens need to register online. The political landscape of Ireland is designed in such a manner that a lot of referendums are conducted. Every time there is a foreseen referendum, the Irish Referendum Commission publishes a booklet to explain the content of the referendum and its issue. This commission now asked Down Syndrome Ireland to produce an easy to read version of this guide. This booklet is then disseminated in the country as part of the educational program for persons with intellectual disabilities.

Down Syndrome Ireland has noticed an improvement in accessible elections in Ireland: not only the accessibility is provided in buildings where the elections are taking place, but the ballot papers are also accessible. For instance, there are pictures of participants and party logos next to their name.

In 2019, the European Parliament’s elections will be held. This is a crucial time to determine the future of the Europe we want. Let’s ensure every person with disabilities’ opinions are heard!

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