NW News Network: Washington State Senate Chambers Get Braille Upgrade For Lt. Governor-Elect

By Reagan Knopp

Jeanie Lindsay for NW News Network:

Lt. Gov.-elect Cyrus Habib is among five statewide elected officials set to take office in Washington next week. He also happens to be blind.

On Thursday, Habib tested out a newly-installed Braille system to help him preside over the state Senate. With IT staff and legislative aides, Habib used the new hardware to run through a mock Senate session.

At first, Habib thought a person would be assisting him on the floor. Instead, the Senate administration offered a tech upgrade.

The system will allow Habib to keep order and recognize senators when they wish to speak on the floor. Senate members will press buttons on their desks to notify the lieutenant governor through a high-tech Braille pad at his lectern.

I love it when technology makes politics and public policy more accessible. In this case, it’s made more accessible to an elected official who is blind. I find the whole thing incredibly cool.