NGO Amruthabindu partners with authorities to promote accessible elections in Bengaluru
The Election Commission of India (ECI) is partnering with NGOs to ensure 100% participation of people with disabilities in the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections. As a part of this exercise, Amruthabindu, an NGO that works for the empowerment of disabled people in Bengaluru held a workshop to provide disabled people information on various new facilities that are made available to make elections accessible.
Umesh, District Disability Office Director, who is in charge of Bengaluru Urban district took questions from the various participants present.
Akshata DC, a scribe co-ordinator and volunteer at Amruthabindu says the workshop gave people with disabilities a chance to directly engage with ECI officials.
There were many visually challenged people and they had a lot of questions. The government does not have the correct number of people with disabilities in Karnataka. Hence, they are struggling to give an exact number of people that will come to polling booths this time. A final list is definitely important. But I believe more disabled people must come forward and participate in elections since it is the right of every citizen. - Akshata DC, Volunteer, Amruthabindu
The Karnataka government has assured various facilities for disabled voters this year like ramps, drinking water, adequate furniture, medical kits, proper lighting and electricity, help desks to guide to right polling booths, proper signage boards, toilets, etc, Separate queues will also be provided for disabled voters and for visually impaired people, there will be Braille facilities.
Jagadeesh R, a visually impaired person working for the Karnataka government has been voting for 15 years. He says that while the workshop was insightful, information about many crucial matters was missing.
"I came to know about the event from a volunteer and I am glad that I participated because it was insightful in many ways. But we also expected more than the information that was provided, especially on facilities provided in Braille. The discussions were mainly about finding solutions and to make elections accessible for disabled voters. We could also bring forth certain sensitive matters to the notice of our chief guest. Most of us felt that government must make things digitalised for us instead of using Braille because Braille is quite lengthy, says Jagadeesh.
With less than a month to go for the elections, many loophole still remain. Hopefully in partnership with local level organizations, the ECI will be able to address these gaps.