Woman campaigning for blind voters’ rights nominated for national award

Blind campaigner Rachael Andrews has been named Campaigner of the Year at the RNIB See Differently a

Blind campaigner Rachael Andrews has been named Campaigner of the Year at the RNIB See Differently awards. Picture: RNIB. - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk woman who has campaigned to improve voting rights for blind and partially-sighted people across the country has been nominated for a national award.

Rachael Andrews, 46, has been shortlisted for an RNIB See Differently award after winning a High Court case against the Government over voting arrangements for people with visual impairments.

The use of Tactile Voting Devices (TVDs) given to blind people in polling stations has now been ruled unlawful as they don't allow people the right to vote secretly and independently.

TVDs, which helps voters mark their ballot in a particular place by fitting over the document, had been in use since 2001, but were criticised for still needing the names of the candidates to be read aloud.

It is thought that the ruling - a result of Ms Andrews' legal challenge - will benefit around 350,000 registered blind or partially-sighted in the UK.

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She said: "Everyone has a legal right to be able to vote independently and in secret and the TVD doesn't do either of those things.

"When my lawyer told me we'd won and that the ruling could change the way over 300,000 blind and partially sighted people in the UK vote, I thought, 'Oh, that's quite big!' I was very pleased."

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Her role in fighting for a more accesible voting system has seen Ms Andrews - who is registered blind herself - shortlisted for the Campaigner of the Year award at the London ceremony on Tuesday, November 26.

She said: "I see the kind of people who are nominated for awards and never think of myself as one of those people, so this is a big surprise. I'm absolutely delighted!"

The RNIB See Differently awards recognise those who raise awareness or fight to break down barriers for people with visual impairments across six categories, including campaigner of the year, innovator of the year, community contributor of the year, social media influencer of the year, team of the year and employer of the year.

RNIB chief executive Matt Stringer said: "The RNIB See Differently Awards will celebrate those who dedicate their time, passion and skills to changing the world for blind and partially sighted people.

"Our shortlisted National Finalists are all fantastic and we wish them the best of luck."

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