The very foundation of a democracy lies in the representation of all stakeholders and an indispensable part of nation-building starts with the inclusion of all in its electoral process. To uphold the spirit of free and fair elections, Election Commission of India declared ‘Accessible Elections’ as the theme for this year’s National Voters’ Day, i.e. 25th January 2018. The theme seamlessly integrates with the underlying philosophy of universal adult suffrage and the concept of ‘No Voter to be Left Behind.’
Today, Election Commission of India along with its 36 Chief Electoral Officers and representatives from Civil Society, working in the field of Disability is deliberating upon ways and means to make elections completely accessible to Persons with Disabilities in the National Consultation on Accessible Elections at ‘The Lalit’ in New Delhi.
The two-day Consultation is also attended by representatives of national political parties, senior officials from Ministries besides Media.
Ahead of the National Consultation, a series of Consultations with the stakeholders were conducted in Districts and States across the country to identify the existing barriers and challenges, assess the implementation of the directives given by Commission on the subject, consolidate and gain from good practices (including innovations and technological support) and for further engagement with the stakeholders. The reports of the Consultations from the States have been documented into the Consultation Reader and the same is to be carefully assessed and analyzed in the National Consultation.
Recommendations of the National Consultation would pave the way for a policy document on ‘Accessible Elections’ and action plan for the upcoming elections.
To make elections accessible to persons with disabilities, efforts have been taken up in past years. A well designed framework of guidelines has been directed by Commission for facilitating PwDs at every step in the electoral process. Many States and UTs have done exemplary work for overcoming the barriers and creating accessible and friendly environment for PwDs. The International Conference on ‘Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in Electoral Processes’, held in January, 2018, aided to consolidate and gain from international experience.
|3rd July, 2018|
|09:30 am - 10:30 am||Registration|
|10:30 am - 11:15 am||Inaugural Session|
|11:30 am - 01:30 pm||Technical Session -I (Accessible Elections-Sharing of Initiatives)|
|02:00 pm - 05:30 pm||Technical Session-II (Group Tasks)|
|4th July, 2018|
|09:15 am - 01:45 pm||Technical Session-II (Thematic Presentations)|
|09:15 am - 10:30 am||Theme: Accessabile Registration process including use of IT|
|10:45 am - 12:15 pm||Theme: Accessabile Polling Station including EVM/VVPAT and other Facilitation measures|
|12:15 pm - 01:45 pm||Theme: Voter Education and Leveraging Partnerships|
|02:30 pm - 04:00 pm||Closing Session|
Break Out Groups
Participants shall be divided into five groups, for discussions, to cover specific disabilities.
- Group 1: Blindness and Low Vision
Group 2: Deaf and hard of hearing and mental illness
Group 5: Multiple disabilities including deaf-blindness
- Group 3: Locomotor Disability including cerebral palsy, leprosy cured, dwarfism, acid attack victims, muscular dystrophy
- Group 4: Intellectual disability including autism, specific learning disability
Technical Session: Thematic Presentations
Day 2 of the consultation will observe three panel discussions which will feature presentations from the participants. The theme for these panel discussions are as follows –
- Theme 1: Accessible Registration Process including use of IT
- Theme 2 : Accessible Polling Station including EVM/VVPAT & other Facilitation measures
Theme 3 : Voter Education and leveraging Partnerships
Edited by ECI