Mencap NI Members Try Virtual Reality To Vote

Mencap NI use virtual reality technology to support voting in Council Elections.

Mencap NI have developed a virtual reality approach to encouraging people with learning disabilities to vote. Mencap supporters Tanya Rankin, Dave Morton and Chris Whyte have been using the new virtual experience of a polling Station with Margaret Kelly, Director of Mencap NI (centre).

Mencap NI are using virtual reality technology to support people with a learning disability to vote in the Council elections on 2 May in Northern Ireland.   A UK survey conducted by Mencap in 2014 found that 70% of people with a learning disability say they intended to vote in the 2015 general election, however, 60% said they found the process of registering to vote too difficult.

The learning disability charity is using an interactive virtual experience replicating a polling station, toshow people what to do when they go to vote for the first time.   The virtual reality experience will help reduce people’s anxiety and develop confidence about what you have to do when voting.  Mencap NI have developed the VR technology with C60 Architects based in Belfast.

Dave Morton, is a Mencap supporter who has never voted before. He said: “I wanted to vote the last time, but I was not sure what to do and was a bit nervous.  Going through it all on the screen just makes it so much easier to understand and you can experience what you have to do at each point before you vote. So now I will vote for the very first in my life and I will do it by myself, I feel excited and proud that I will vote just like everyone else in Northern Ireland.”

Mencap NI have also developed a ‘Guide to Voting’ in partnership with the Electoral Commission for Northern Ireland with advice in easy read format, for people with a learning disability, explaining the whole voting process of registration and voting.  

Margaret Kelly, Director of Mencap NI said: “Many people with a learning disability can find it difficult to engage in their community. So we are providing support for people to register and vote, voting is one of the most inclusive acts a person can do to be involved in society. 

“A polling station can be a busy place if you are not sure what you should be doing. So on our website people can now go through the voting experience from home in advance and access a range of other information on voting and how to register to vote.  We want encourage people with a learning disability to register, vote and become active members in society.”

The final date to register to vote in the Northern Ireland Council elections is on the 12 April and you must register, before you can vote.  

Ann Watt, Head of the Electoral Commission in Northern Ireland said: “We are delighted to have worked in partnership with Mencap NI to produce the Guide to Voting. This guide provides important information and support which we hope will give people with a learning disability the confidence to vote and make sure their voice is heard at the local elections on 2 May.” 

If you need some support and advice on how to vote, visit the Mencap NI webpage for information: