More Than Voting Booths: Accessibility of Electoral Campaigns for People with Disabilities in Ontario

  • Mary Ann McColl Academic Lead, Canadian Disability Policy Alliance Associate Director, Centre for Health Services & Policy Research Professor, Rehab Therapy / Public Health Science Queen’s University
  • Alexandra Giancarlo PhD Candidate, Department of Geography, Queen's University
  • David W. Shannon Barrister-and-Solicitor Executive Director, Hagi Community Services for Independence
  • Ulysses Patola PhD Candidate at the University of Manitoba, History
Keywords: Voting, accessibility, campaign, polling, election, website, booth, democracy

Abstract

Obstacles to electoral involvement for persons with a disability are not limited to inaccessible polling sites.  Meeting venues, campaign offices and constituency offices are all central to the effective functioning of Canadian democracy.   The purpose of this paper is to identify the extent to which the Ontario election campaign of 2011 “opened doors” to electoral participation for persons with disabilities.  The study used a survey and document review approach to compose a snapshot of election and campaign accessibility in Ontario in 2011.  Party leaders were polled to seek their official position on disability issues and accessibility in their campaign and their platform.  Thirty individual candidates were approached from each of the 3 official parties and from 10 ridings across Ontario.  Referring to the 2011 Ontario provincial election, candidates were asked about campaign offices, candidate meetings and website accessibility.   Websites and campaign materials were also reviewed for the three parties for any mention of disability or accessibility.  The findings from this survey suggest that there is a general lack of understanding of the imperative to achieve accessibility standards, not only of polling stations and booths, but also of political campaigns, if representative democracy in Canada is to include people with disabilities.  

Author Biographies

Mary Ann McColl, Academic Lead, Canadian Disability Policy Alliance Associate Director, Centre for Health Services & Policy Research Professor, Rehab Therapy / Public Health Science Queen’s University

Dr. McColl’s research focuses on disability policy, access to health care for people with disabilities, and spirituality and disability.

Alexandra Giancarlo, PhD Candidate, Department of Geography, Queen's University
Giancarlo is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography at Queen's University. Her SSHRC-funded thesis research focuses on the cultural activism and racial politics of Louisiana's mixed-race rural Creoles. She also researches topics related to human rights, anti-racism, and disability studies.
David W. Shannon, Barrister-and-Solicitor Executive Director, Hagi Community Services for Independence

Barrister-and-Solicitor,

Executive Director, Hagi Community Services for Independence 

Ulysses Patola, PhD Candidate at the University of Manitoba, History
PhD Candidate at the University of Manitoba, History

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Published
2015-01-23
Section
Articles