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Election Commission's PwD App has a welcome update for visually impaired voters

April 17, 2019

The Election Commission of India (ECI)'s PwD App aims to make the voting process hassle free and accessible for people with disabilities. It allows voters to register themselves and has useful information regarding application status, polling booth location and lots more.

Now there's a welcome addition for people with visual impairments. The app lets them know about the candidates. The update was announced on Twitter by Dr Kushal Pathak‏, Director IT, ECI . He tweeted, ”Now see the contesting candidates list sorted as in ballot paper. I hope it will help visually impaired citizens to hear the list of candidates before they enter the polling station and cast their vote accordingly."

What this means is that voters can listen to the list of candidates from their constituency before they enter the polling booth and make a choice. The names of the candidates will be listed as as per the Ballot Paper sequence, making the task of choosing easier.

Praising the move, disability rights leader Dr Satendra Singh, who is also a member of the State Steering Committee on Accessible Elections, Delhi said on social media, "Kudos ECI & @kushalpathak to help visually impaired to hear the list of candidate before they enter the polling station & cast their vote accordingly."

The feature has been added to the Voter Helpline as well as the PwD App. Many people have appreciated the feature. For now, the app is available on Android phones, which is a drawback that needs to be fixed, say disability rights activists.

It would have been better if the complete app was also compatible with iOS phones making it useable for more people. The ECI and government need to change their perspective about people with disabilities. Change in terminology and being called ‘divyangs’ is not what we need. We need to be treated with equality without the barriers of infrastructure and societal mindset. - Pranay Gadodia, Eyeway

The move has been broadly welcomed by the community. Ahmedabad-based law student Maitreya Shah says this will enable visually impaired voters to make a more informed choice. "Knowing about the candidates beforehand is definitely an added advantage for voters with visual impairments. This feature along with the braille ballots will make elections accessible for visually impaired voters.".

Sadaf Khan, Member, Blind Graduates Forum of India, sees this as empowering. "Many a times, in the earlier elections visually impaired voters had to rely on their escorts to make a decision about voting. The app will definitely provide us with the much needed freedom to make a selection while voting. The voting process will also become faster and more convenient for us."

With the next phase of voting coming up tomorrow, this feature of the app will get tested by many in the visually impaired community. The goal is to get the word out to as many people as possible.

ALSO READ: Voter Helpline in ISL aims to enable India's deaf community to make an informed choice in this election



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