Disability Awareness Tips for Poll Workers

Introduce Yourself!
Woman holding sign-in sheet and pen.

Who you are and your role in the election area.

Especially important for voters who are blind or low vision!

Body Language and Tone
woman looking at person across table while speaking.

Body language and tone can be as important as what you say.

Make eye with the voter--especially if they are using a personal attendant or an interpreter.
Avoid foot-tapping, crossed arms, or pointing at people to get their attention.

Note: If a voter has difficulty maintaining eye contact--then take your cue from the voter and don't force eye contact.

Speaking Loudly Doesn't Always Help!
Young boy with megaphone yelling at another boy.

Avoid the tendency to "turn up the volume" if a person:

  • Asks a question twice.
  • Has difficulty speaking themselves.
  • Has hearing aids or cochlear implants.
  • Needs any other kinds of assistance.
Effective Communication
Two graphic faces exchanging symbols that represent ideas.

Effective communication means voters with disabilities are given the opportunity to understand information as well as everyone else. When unsure if you understand what the voter is communicating, repeat back or summarize what you understood the voter said. Then let the voter confirms if this is correct.

Offering and Providing Assistance
Woman using wheelchair opening exterior door.

If you notice a voter having difficulty opening a door, moving over a threshold, etc, don't hesitate to offer assistance.

But always askhow to help. Never just push a wheelchair without permission. You could cause the person to tumble from the chair or some other type of accident.

Blindness or Low Vision: Guiding
  • Offer your arm, elbow, or shoulder if assistance is needed. Give the person information- “I’m offering you my arm.”

• When moving, describe what is on the path ahead.

• Make sure to alert to doorways or turns

 

Speech Impairments
  • Allow the voter time to speak-don’t show impatience-pay attention to what your body language/facial expressions are conveying.
     
  • Remember, the voter may have difficulty speaking—not understanding.
     
  • Don’t change your vocabulary or manner of speaking or complete the person's sentences.
     
  • Use the “Play it Back” technique, if needed.
Hearing Loss and Deafness
Close of lips showing importance of lip reading.
  • Speak normally- hearing aids are tuned for it.
  • Keep your face and mouth visible for lip reading.
  • Don’t over-enunciate or talk too slowly—that actually makes lip-reading more difficult.
  • When an interpreter is present, address the voter, not the interpreter.
  • If you turn your back or move away in order to get something, don’t speak until you are facing the voter again.