Today, many people will be casting their votes in either the European or local elections taking place around the country.

Some people however - such as those with learning disabilities - are likely to be seriously under-represented at the ballot box, a point that was well made by Gary Bourlet in his interview published in The Guardian yesterday.

Before the last general election, we surveyed people supported by United Response to ask them what challenges they face when it comes to casting their vote. The complexity of the voting system, a shortage of accessible information and a lack of learning disability awareness amongst candidates and other political stakeholders, were all cited as key reasons for people not voting.

We know that many charities and organisations working with disenfranchised or marginalised group are already putting in work to ensure that the people they support will have a fair chance to have their say in today’s elections and those in the future. However, for the many charities who still feel they have a long way to go before the people they work with really are engaged in democracy, the election taking place today may provide an opportunity to close that gap.

The results of the elections are likely to be much more high profile and discussed than other local or European results, for two reasons. The first is that the general election is less than a year away, and so the results will be dissected for what they reveal about the fortunes of the main parties. The second is the predicted success of UKIP, which may radically change our political landscape.

Politics becoming more high profile provides a huge opportunity for organisations like ourselves who are working to engage the people they support in the democratic system. It provides an opening for those working with people with learning disabilities to begin conversations with the people they support about the meaning of politics in their lives, laying the groundwork for them to vote in 2015.

Of course, politics can be a complicated business, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying to make it more accessible. That’s why we have developed Easy News, the first ever easy read newspaper for people with learning disabilities, as a way of explaining major news stories in a clear, simple and unbiased way. Easy News will increasingly feature stories on politics and voting as the 2015 election approaches.

Watch our video on the impact of Easy News:

If you think the people you work with would benefit from accessible versions of news stories, then it’s free to sign up.

Sign up for Easy News

You can also take a look at our Election Planner, a ten point guide to making democracy more accessible, created for charities working with disenfranchised groups, and sign up to our regular newsletters on voting. 

Find out about accessible resources for voting

It’s only by beginning a dialogue with marginalised groups now that we will be able to see them vote in unprecedented numbers in 2015. That’s a conversation worth having.

Jaime Gill, head of external affairs.