Information for People with Disabilities
Elections Canada is committed to responding to the diverse needs of Canadians.
We make every effort to make voting as accessible as possible and to engage people with disabilities as we develop and implement our services. Our research has identified that people with disabilities face barriers to participating in elections. Building on our initiatives already in place, our goal is to continue improving the accessibility of the electoral process.
Addressing the barriers
In preparation for a general election, we work with the disability community to address barriers and make the electoral process more accessible.
Community Relations Officers for Accessibility: Our Community Relations Officer program has many goals, including:
- Increasing election awareness;
- providing information on where, when and ways to register to vote;
- explaining the importance of registering to vote; and
- making voting as accessible as possible for the communities in which they work.
During the 2019 general election, we had 1,510 community relations officers helping to improve access and reduce barriers. We are building on that success for the next general election.
Voter information in accessible formats: Key information about voting and registration is available online, in print and in alternate formats upon request:
- Large print
- Audio CD and files (i.e. DAISY)
- Full transcription
- Open captioning
- ASL and LSQ videos
Polling place accessibility: The Polling Place Suitability Checklist ensures that all polling places are evaluated for accessibility before the election. Of the 37 accessibility criteria on the Checklist, 15 are mandatory. During the election, you can find out if your polling place meets your needs:
- By entering your postal code in our Voter Information Service,
- by calling us, or
- on the Voter Information Card, which is mailed to every registered elector.
(See also Policy on Selecting Suitable Polling Places.)
Accessibility tools and services at the polls: We have reviewed and updated our Accessibility Policy and Service Offering policy. Available in multiple alternative formats, it shows the accessibility services available to polling staff and electors, including:
- Sensitivity training for staff working at the polls
- Sign language interpretation services available upon request in advance
- Tools to help electors vote
- A redesigned ballot that improves readability and optical character recognition (OCR) by screen readers
Stakeholder mobilization: We work with external organizations and people with disabilities to improve our programs and services, as well as accessibility and voting participation for electors with disabilities. Our formal and informal partnerships with various organizations representing people with disabilities help distribute our election information products.
It's Our Vote: The 2019 general election advertising campaign was called "It's Our Vote." It gave Canadians the information they needed to become a candidate, work at an election, register and vote. This social and digital campaign helped reduce barriers to voting for first-time voters (youth aged 18–24 and new Canadians), Indigenous people and people with disabilities. We use plain language in all of our materials and test all of our products in focus groups made up of people with disabilities and other Canadians. We specifically design our communications so that Canadians are familiar with the voting process before they go to the polls.
Advisory Group for Disability Issues: In February 2014, Elections Canada launched an Advisory Group for Disability Issues to provide advice on initiatives for the 2015 federal election. The group also helped to identify the best ways to inform people with disabilities of when, where and the ways to register and vote. Because of the group’s excellent work, we continued to consult with this group when planning for the 2019 general election and will continue for future general elections.
Inspire Democracy: People with disabilities are a key group in our Inspire Democracy outreach program. Inspire Democracy workshops and participation at important conferences are ways we share information, understand barriers to voting and discuss effective approaches to support voter participation.
For more information on other ways Elections Canada is addressing barriers to voting go to: How & Where to Vote