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Authors: De Silva, M.T.
Issue Date: 26-Jul-2021
Abstract: Sri Lanka currently uses a paper-based voting system for conducting elections. Voters with visual disabilities using this paper-based voting system have to depend on the assistance of another to vote. This violates the blind voter’s right to privacy. Considering this issue, the present study aimed to design an information technology-based voting solution. Research was conducted based on use-inspired design science approach along with design science research process. Also, User Centered Design (UCD) methods were used. A study was conducted on identifying the design features of existing voting systems that are accessible for voters with visual disabilities. Interviews were conducted with voting professionals, election authorities, and blind voters whilst making observations to identify their behaviours. The proposed system consists of two ballot interfaces: Button Tactile (BT) Ballot with button controls and Touch Tactile (TT) Ballot based on a touch interface. The BT Ballot consists of only four buttons whilst a blind voter can vote simply using only one button. TT Ballot consists of transparent tactile sleeve with holes aligned with voting options displayed on the touch screen. The sleeve acts as a guidance for the blind voter. The design features of the interfaces were informed by the concept of multi-modality and universal design guidelines. A prototype of the system was provided to a group of users to obtain feedback before final implementation of the system. Design features were modified after gathering feedback. System was implemented, and evaluation was carried out based on ISO usability metrics and System Usability Scale. From this study, knowledge was gathered about the requirements of blind voters. Also, a critical evaluation was made on the design features implemented in existing voting systems that are aimed to provide accessibility for voters with visual disabilities. Results could be interpreted that voters with visual disabilities prefer to use this multi-modal voting solution. Users preferred the Button Tactile Ballot more than Touch Tactile Ballot while some had no preference. However, in terms of efficiency, the Touch Tactile Ballot was slightly quicker than the Button Tactile Ballot. Effectiveness wise too, the Touch Tactile Ballot was slightly better as measured by the number of completed ballots without errors. Research study indicates that Multi-modal voting solutions can address voting needs of voters with visual disabilities ensuring an accessible and usable vote.
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