An Open House to be held on the campus of USF St Petersburg on October 3 will showcase voting technologies available in Pinellas County that can help people with a variety of disabilities get out to the polls in November.
One of the machines to be demonstrated, the AutoMark, can “read” the ballot out loud and helps people who have print disabilities to understand the ballot, and check their own vote. “People with reading disabilities due to stroke or brain injury, learning disabilities, or visual impairments can all have difficulty reading a ballot”, said Jackie Hinckley, Executive Director of Voices of Hope for Aphasia, the nonprofit organization that is organizing the event. “The AutoMark enables a person with this kind of disability to go to the polls and cast their ballot independently, which is a right and a responsibility in our democratic society.”
The technology will be on display as part of an Open House that will give the public, along with USFSP students and faculty, a chance to learn about communication disabilities that are a result of stroke, called aphasia. One thing that can be affected by a stroke or brain injury is the ability to link written words to their meanings. The Open House will also feature interactive simulations that will challenge attendees to experience what it might be like to have these kinds of communication disabilities. Finally, the award-winning film Aphasia: The Movie will be shown followed by a discussion.
“Our organization has a mission to help people living with communication disabilities reconnect with their typical activities, and voting is a basic right and activity of all American adults”, added Hinckley. “We also want to raise awareness about the technologies that can make this and other typical activities accessible.”
The Open House will be on Friday, October 3, 2014 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on the USFSP campus, in Coquina Hall 212. The event is open to all the general public, USF faculty and students and people are welcome to drop by at anytime during the event.
For more information or to download a flyer with a map and directions, go to: http://www.vohaphasia.org/#!news–events/cuob. You will also be directed to a video link that previews the AutoMark, thanks to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections.
About Voices of Hope for Aphasia
Voices of Hope for Aphasia (www.vohaphasia.org) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in St. Petersburg, FL, that provides group-based programs for people with aphasia in the Tampa Bay area. The goal of these programs are to help people living with aphasia return to active social lives with their families, friends, and the community.
The program meets twice weekly, including one day at a week on the campus of USF St. Petersburg.
Nearly 2 million people in the United States are living with aphasia, the loss of the ability to understand, speak, read, or write due to a stroke or other brain injury. Individuals with aphasia have intact intelligence and are mentally competent, but have trouble finding the words they need to express themselves. The condition is similar to living in a country where you don’t speak the language.