Currently, no AODA standards require provincial or municipal elections in Ontario to be accessible. However, the Third Review of the AODA recommends the creation of standards mandating accessibility in politics and elections. AODA standards in politics and elections could require AODA training for polling station workers.
AODA Training for Polling station workers
Like other Ontario workers in the public sector, people who staff polling stations during elections must have basic AODA customer service training. However, the Third Review of the AODA states that current AODA training requirements need improvement. For instance, Current training requirements allow organizations to train workers using various formats, including:
- Interactive workshops
- Classroom settings
- Online courses
On one hand, these options allow organizations to create training that relates AODA principles to the services they provide. For instance, restaurants may offer training on communicating that may include reading menus aloud or taking orders in writing. On the other hand, organizations are not required to develop training modules that show workers how to serve clients with disabilities within specific industries. Instead, modules more often take a “one-size-fits-all” approach. This general approach does not help trainees respond to situations in their workplaces involving customers with disabilities.
Training Topics for Polling Station Workers
Therefore, polling station workers may not receive training that helps them respond to the needs of voters with disabilities.
For instance, voters may need detailed information about the physical accessibility of their local polling stations. Polling station workers should be prepared to inform voters whether or not their local polling station will meet their needs. If a voter’s polling station is not accessible for them, officials should quickly arrange transfer to a more accessible station. Similarly, voters may need to know whether their local polling station has the accessible voting method they require. Officials should be knowledgeable about various voting options, and where those options are available.
Furthermore, when communication supports, such as Sign language interpretation or communication boards, are available during a voter’s visit, polling station staff should know how to help a voter access these supports. Likewise, if a polling station has ballots in accessible formats, staff should know where these ballots are. Moreover, in polling stations with assistive technology, staff should know how to operate each type.
Furthermore, staff should welcome service animals, and know how to interact with voters who are service-animal handlers. Likewise, staff should know how to interact with voters who use assistive devices or support persons.
When workers at polling stations have thorough training about how the AODA applies to the process of voting, they will have the knowledge they need to support all citizens in casting their votes.