Delhi Will See The Most Disabled-Friendly Polls In India

Delhi Will See The Most Disabled-Friendly Polls In India

Delhi Will See The Most Disabled-Friendly Polls In India, The Election Commission wants the 2019 Lok Sabha Election to be the most inclusive in history. In an effort to make the electoral process more inclusive and more disabled friendly the EC has rolled out a number of steps.

This is in response to the long running battle the Persons with disabilities (PWD) have been fighting to get their right to vote. So far, a number of reasons including inadequate voter education, difficulties in voter registration, access to polling stations, inability to vote privately, and the absence of assistance from poll personnel have all meant that the disabled, even if they wanted to vote, largely decided against it.

But, as Delhi goes to polls, the EC, the government and campaigners have walked the extra mile to make the entire process easier for them and make them feel that they are no lesser than others.

This include ramps for wheelchairs, pick up of voters and trained assistants at the booths.ccording to the EC Circular, there has to be assured minimum facilities including wheelchairs at polling booths, wheelchair accessibility, transport, companion for blind voters, sign language interpreter, reserved parking for disabled voters, volunteers to assist etc. A disabled voter can just go to the polling booth and avail this facility, without even showing a certificate," Dr Satendra Singh, a Disability Rights activist said.


According to him disability is an ambiguous term and the approach so far was one-size-fits-all, but the needs of disabled persons differ based on the nature of their disabilities. 

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016, identify 21 types of disabilities including blindness, low vision, dwarfism, locomotor disability, intellectual disability, mental illness, among others.

Despite the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016, he said political parties are still largely ignorant about the needs of the community. 

"Only in the past 2-3 general elections, political parties started talking about PwDs in their manifesto. Earlier, they were not even mentioned. Only because of social media, we raise our voice the parties take note and started speaking about what they will do for the disabled.

"This is encouraging, but it is very less. The critical issues are still missing. Only three political parties had spoken about PwD in their manifesto. And every one of them, despite a promising field to produce the manifesto in Braille script. This is disheartening," Dr. Singh said.

He also pointed out that the political parties have failed in inclusion by not fielding candidates with disabilities, who could have become the voice of the community in lawmaking. 

"In all these political parties, where is the political participation of people with disabilities? How many of these parties have given election tickets to PwDs? Political parties are ready to give elections tickets to a terror accused when a disabled man who has been fighting for the rights of indigenous people is languishing in jail without a bail even after the intervention of the UN special rapporteur on Human Rights and Amnesty International. Until and unless they give tickets to PwDs they cannot be inclusive and their promises will remain unfulfilled," he said

Dr. Singh was of the opinion that with the increase in participation of PwDs in the election process, it will have an immediate impact on policymaking in the future.

"There has been a visible change. But we have to make sure that these things should be implemented in letter and spirit. On onside you give fancy names to people with disabilities and on the other side, you put a tax on our body parts. GST on assistive devices is something unheard of. These are our body parts, you cannot tax them. We are hopeful that the more disabled people join the political process, things will change for the better," he said.

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