Lubbock County voters with special needs have more options than ever to cast a ballot. From headphones to interpreters, voting accessibility now comes in many forms, which has helped some folks vote for the very first time.
Voting in this year's presidential election seems to be the topic many are talking or signing about these days. However, unlike past elections Mark Dickson says he is voicing his opinion for the first time and it's not because of the issues. "They didn't have an interrupter. The machines were difficult for people to understand," Dickson said.
Deirdre Watson agrees. NewsChannel 11's own Video Journalist Curt Watson interpreted as Deirdre told us of past voting frustrations. "Before I had to go to schools where it was very hard to communicate," Deirdre said.
But that was then. For this presidential election, voting machines are equipped with headphones for the hearing impaired. Large green and red jelly switches for those with tactile difficulties. In addition, on Thursday at Lubbock Community Services for the Deaf interpreters were on hand to assist early voters.
"Disability community came in and gave us their input, this is one of the reasons this type of equipment was selected for Lubbock County," Lubbock County Elections Administrator Dorothy Kennedy said. The disabled options do not stop with the headphones and the brail on the voting machines. They can also be taken to those who can't get out of their car.
The options don't end with early voting. Kennedy says due to the new vote centers, those who speak with their hands or have other disabilities will have same options come Election Day. "We just don't have enough translators here in Lubbock County to be able to put one at every polling location. But the vote center locations opens up a whole new branch of voting," Kennedy said.
"We're making it equal so deaf and hard of hearing people and people with disabilities can vote," Dickson added.
Interpreters will be available at two locations on Election Day. These include the Byron Martin Center and Life/Run Center for Independent Living.
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