Showing posts with label Accessible Elections. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Accessible Elections. Show all posts

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Polling Stations without lift can only use ground floor for assembly elections in Mumbai

In a bid to ensure accessibility during the forthcoming assembly elections in Maharashtra, it has been decided that all polling stations will be on ground floor if there’s no lift, reports Times of India.

For the first time an assembly election will have all polling booths on the ground floor if the building does not have working lifts. Taxis and buses will also be arranged by the election commission to ferry the elderly, ailing or disabled voters. “Accessibility will be the main feature of this election and the administration is braced to achieve it,” city district collector Shivaji Jondhale and suburban collector Milind Borikar, who are also the district election officers, said in a public interaction organised by Together VCAN, a social forum.

Farog Mukadam, deputy election officer, said the city and suburbs had 2,540 and 7,395 polling stations and only 104 of these in the city and 450 in the suburbs had permission to operate from the first, second and third floors as these had functional lifts. There would also be ramps for voters moving on wheel-chairs. While city has around 5.5 lakh voters above the age of 60, the suburban district has approximately over 20 lakh senior citizens. The collectors said that at stations where rooms were not available on the ground floor, pandals would be erected to create polling booths.

There are around 2,600 persons with disabilities in the city district and around 5,500 in the suburban district. The city and suburbs have a target of achieving a minimum of 60% voting against the 53% and 57% achieved in the recent Lok Sabha polls.

“We have around 14 wheelchair-mounted vehicles donated by VCAN, a social forum and six buses in the city to cater to disabled and elderly voters. In the suburbs, around 100 buses will arrange transport for them. Over and above this, 360 and 1,200 taxis each in city and suburbs will help in arranging transport for such voters on behalf of the election commission,” Mukadam said. 

Source: Times of India

Saturday, May 11, 2019

In Delhi, making elections accessible for the differently-abled

Ms. Vangmayi Parakala | The Hindu | May 10, 2019 

On voting day on Sunday, Svayam offers mobility solutions to the disabled across the city. 

“The fight is tight. Each vote matters,” says Sminu Jindal, reiterating the messaging we’ve all heard many times almost every election season. But this year, she’s attempted to follow through on this. Her organisation, Svayam, has partnered with NGOs in Delhi’s South, West, and South-West constituencies to ensure that people with mobility problems aren’t hindered from exercising their franchise.

Access for all
“Accessibility isn’t and shouldn’t be a concern only for disability rights activists,” Jindal stresses adding that you needn’t be elderly or disabled to benefit from better thought-out public transportation and spaces: you can be a young athlete who’s injured and on a wheelchair, or you can be in the last trimester of your pregnancy.

Polling is usually held in government buildings like the local municipal school, meaning that by law, these will be accessible spaces, with at least the basic provision of ramps. The problem though, is in getting to these booths.

Through its partner organisations, Svayam has deputed wheelchair-friendly vans that will shuttle people to and from their voting booths, should they need them. In 2017, the organisation had already donated 10 such vans to different NGOs across the country. Of these, four vans have stayed in the city, with Astha, Muskaan, Family of Disabled, and Yes We Can. This year, they’ve added two new vans to this existing entourage, also working with the Election Commission of India to ensure that booths have what the polling body calls “Assured Minimum Facilities.”

Key partnership
After surviving a crash that left her paralysed from the wasit down when she was 11 years old, Jindal has been an active advocate for accessibility. She calls the government Svayam’s “most important partner,” recalling a two-decade-old association through which they’ve partnered and consulted on projects. This includes regular audits, training, and design interventions at various sites.

Starting 2006, they worked with the Archaeological Survey of India to make heritage sites like the Qutub Minar, Fatehpur Sikri and the Taj Mahal friendly for tourists with reduced mobility. Later, they were a part of the core committee set up to harmonise construction standards for the elderly and disabled. Today, they routinely conduct sensitisation and training sessions with staff at the Delhi International Airport Limited.

But it was in June 2018 that the Election Commission of India invited Svayam to be a partner on the National Consultation on Accessible Elections, stating that this “will pave the way for evolving the National Policy document on Inclusion of PwDs [Persons with Disabilities] in Electoral Process.” Svayam specifically made 20 recommendations at this meet, including the need to allow service animals and guide dogs to enter booths.

“The ECI has been very positive this time. The only major challenge is to standardise these guidelines across the country,” says Subhash Chandra Vashishth, Director of Svayam, adding that close to 13 pointers in their recommendations have been accepted and implemented this year.

Source: The Hindu