NGOs partner with government to make accessible election a reality in Puducherry
Elections have never been accessible for people with disabilities in Puducherry. But not anymore because government officials at this union territory are tying up with local NGOs to ensure that people of various disability types can participate in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Officials are looking out into various facilities that can be offered.
Disability rights activists here are happy with these initiatives that are finally enabling the community to exercise their rights as citizens of India.
Satya Special School in Puducherry is the nodal NGO that is enabling accessible elections across Puducherry. Founder Chitra Shah says the NGO has been holding programmes and events over the past few weeks to create awareness about accessible elections.
We are working towards ensuring that disabled people can vote without any hassles. Wheelchairs and wheelchair ramps will be provided at polling booths, deaf people will have sign language interpreters and visually impaired people will have guides throughout the election process. - Chitra Shah, Founder, Satya Special School
So far, 80 people across Puducherry have enrolled to cast their votes. NGOs are creating awareness programmes for their parents/caregivers as well.
"Parents must understand that their son or daughter's vote is not something to be taken for granted", says Shah. "This is one of the biggest platforms for a disabled person to show their power. Parents often think that their child with an intellectual disability cannot differentiate. It is true that they will not know what each political party has to offer to the public. But their votes definitely count. Puducherry has over 2,000 people with intellectual disabilities. The Election Commission is proactive and they are not leaving any stone unturned to ensure maximum participation of people with all kinds of disabilities for the upcoming elections".
Satya Special School and its volunteers have been conducting street plays, mock drills and interactive sessions. This Sunday they plan to hold an awareness program on the beach promenade.
"These are wonderful steps towards inclusion and accessibility", says Narayana Swamy who has a child with a disability. "Social media, being a very powerful tool, is also a great medium to promote all this. I believe the upcoming elections are one of the first ones to promote so much of inclusion and accessibility."
Every citizen of India, who is eligible to vote, has the fundamental right to decide their government. By actively initiating such measures, the Election Commission here is ensuring that happens.