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Accessibility check of key Chennai polling booth throws up glaring loopholes


Four disability rights organisations in Tamil Nadu - Disability Rights Alliance India, December 3 movement, Maathi Yosi and Udavikkaram - and volunteers did an access audit of polling booths in a key constituency in Chennai and found that that ramps and other accessibility features are below minimum standards.

Seven teams, each with a disabled person, examined the 258 booths. They said that while most of the polling booths had ramps, over half of them were not up to the standard needed.

Some of the ramps had no handrails and in some booths, there was no place for the wheelchair to turn. One of the centres did not allow them to enter the booths and they had to take the support of the zonal officer to enter.

No change since last access audit in March 2016

What is disappointing is that no change had taken place since the last access audit. At one place, the booth had a step down, no light and there was sand from the entrance gate to the booth that would make it difficult for a wheelchair to pass through.

Although a request had been made for the candidate list in Braille Tamil and for voice messages to be sent to the blind voters with details of the location, no progress had been made.

A report on the audit has been submitted to the zonal officer, who had promised to fix the problems. A second check will be carried out later this week with the the superintending engineer.

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