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Students to help people with disabilities at polling booths in upcoming elections in Delhi

The national elections are round the corner and the Election Commission of India is going all out to ensure that people with disabilities cast their vote in large numbers. Every effort is being made to make sure this can happen, from Braille voter cards and wheelchair ramps at at polling booths.

In Delhi, 10,000 students from schools and colleges across the national capital will assist the poll officials Students of Delhi University, higher secondary schools and even NCC cadets will be included to the list. These students will be trained on how to reach out and help disabled people who come to vote to the polling booths.

The EC has also requested the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to purchase 3,000 new wheelchairs that can be used by disabled people at polling booths. This new initiative by the government is welcome with open arms by people from the disabled community.

Nipun Malhotra, well known disability rights activist and co-founder of Nipman Foundation has welcomed the step.

Any such new ventures that reach out to disabled voters are great. This new initiative is a great proposal. In fact, the government must make sure that 100% of disabled people vote for elections without any hassles. Other countries come up with innovative and creative methods to promote voting of people from disabled community. Like for instance, wheelchair users are provided with doorstep transport that helps them to go to polling booths. India must follow suit. - Nipun Malhotra, Co-founder, Nipman Foundation

Most polling booths across Delhi are still inaccessible except for some schools that have wheelchair ramps. A meeting was held on 15 February to finalize the kind of volunteers who would be ideal to help disabled voters.

Authorities have also prepared a final list so that students from different schools can be identified for this venture. They will also ensure that there is an equal ratio of boys and girls are part of this venture.

Pulkit Sharma, a wheelchair user has been voting regularly. He hopes that this time the booths will be accessible.

"Unfortunately, most of the polling booths in Delhi do not have wheelchair ramps. I go to vote at a school that has a wheelchair ramp. But that is an exception. Students can help blind people and assist them in many ways. But when it comes to wheelchair users, it is best to provide them with accessibility. That would be the ideal thing that the government can do", says Sharma.

The government has promised many facilities for disabled people to come to polling booths and cast their votes. But only time can tell how well all these are going to be implemented, and whether they will be successful or not.

ALSO READ: Andhra Pradesh government increases reservation for disabled people in employment by 1%

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