Around 50,000 blind and vision-impaired people on the electoral register are being given their first opportunity to cast their votes in secret in tomorrow's referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

The State has been forced to supply all polling stations with easy-to-use and cheap tactile ballot templates.

The breakthrough was secured by disability activist Robbie Sinnott, who succeeded in his High Court challenge to the practice of returning officers marking ballot papers on his behalf.

Mr Sinnott, a co-founder of the Blind Legal Alliance, explained to RTÉ News that every polling station will be supplied with a tactile ballot template.

It enables visually-impaired voters to cast their ballots unassisted by superimposing the plastic pad on the ballot paper.

Written in raised lettering on it are the words "Yes/Tá" and "No/Níl" and beside each option is a square cavity through which the voter can write his or her preference on the ballot paper unassisted.

The English words "Yes" and "No" are also written on the template in Braille.

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Wexford-born Mr Sinnott, who is a Gaelic scholar living in Dublin's James Street, said the development marked "only the beginning of a journey".

He said his organisation was looking forward to working with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government on rolling out the template in local, European and general elections.

Mr Sinnott conceded that multi-seat contests using the system of proportional representation would present challenges that do not arise with referendums.

The National Council for the Blind in Ireland, which advised the Department on the template's design, welcomed the development as did Free Legal Aid Centres which helped Mr Sinnott mount his court challenge.

Mr Sinnott said it is costing the State less than 50,000 to supply the referendum templates.