TN ULB polls: PwD unhappy over ‘unfriendly’ booths

The activists said the need for convenient arrangements for people with disabilities was highlighted during all the elections and though Assembly elections saw some attention being given to ramps and wheelchair arrangements, the State Election Commission did not look into those issues, despite several representations being made to them earlier.
Representative Image
Representative Image

Chennai

While all arrangements were made at the polling booths for the urban local body elections on Saturday, people with disabilities (PwD) were disappointed with the lack of facilities to access the polling booths and the unavailability of Braille facilities for the visually impaired.
The activists said the need for convenient arrangements for people with disabilities was highlighted during all the elections and though Assembly elections saw some attention being given to ramps and wheelchair arrangements, the State Election Commission did not look into those issues, despite several representations being made to them earlier.
“This would be an unforgettable election for the differently-abled community. Very poor, eyewash arrangements were made for the differently-abled electorate for easy accessibility etc. Braille facilities for visually impaired voters were ignored. The temporary ramps in many booths were of poor quality and unable to use. The wheelchairs were seen in very few polling stations even in Chennai,” said S Namburajan, State General Secretary, Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of All Types of Differently Abled and Caregivers.
He said the State Election Commissioner did not respond when asked about these issues and officials expressed inability to feature Braille on the EVMs.
Disability Rights Alliance (DRA) member and accessibility consultant at the Election Commission of India, Smitha Sadasivan said though attempts were made to communicate with the State Election Commission, there has been not much response. 
“Earlier, I had approached them regarding the same for rural local body elections and we were told that an order has been issued to district Collectors to take measures for easy access to the booths. However, they did not share a copy of the order,” said Smitha.

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