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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 April, 2004, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
Disabled voters 'need better access'
Ballot box
Getting to a ballot box can be very difficult for some disabled people
More needs to be done to make voting in elections easier for disabled people, according to an umbrella organisation.

The Wales Disability Reference Group has begun a campaign to improve access to voting stations for Wales' 400,000 disabled voters.

A survey during the 2003 assembly election found that 77% of polling booths were inaccessible to some.

The group said with a bit of planning these obstacles could be avoided.

Representatives from the group met members of all the main political parties at Cardiff Institute for the Blind on Tuesday to distribute copies of a new leaflet highlighting the issues.

They believe it is in the parties' own interest to maximise potential voters' chances of casting their ballot in the forthcoming local and European elections this June.

One of the points raised was for politicians to ensure that all the forms for voting are available in relevant formats such as Braille.

Alun Thomas from Disability Rights Commission Wales said: "What we have found was it was the little things that were going wrong that made all the difference.

"For example, we had a polling station in the Cardiff area where there were a flight of stairs and a bell at the top saying 'disabled access, please ring'.

"The vast majority of disabled people with physical impairments wouldn't have been able to climb the stairs in the first place.

"So we need to actually tackle some of the basic ignorance out and build on best practice."

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