THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Elections have never been accessible to the differently-abled. On voting day, they face hurdles including difficulties reaching polling booths, the unavailability of transportation facilities and the facilities not being disabled-friendly. Albeit, this time the ECI has taken measures to make the elections inclusive and accessible for the differently-abled.
Transportation is a major challenge. Taking this into consideration, the ECI has decided to provide a pick-up and drop facility for the differently-abled. “This time we are not just providing ramps but also transportation. For this, we did a survey and have come up with the a list of the differently-abled in the city who require transportation facilities during elections,” said Priyanka G, assistant collector, Thiruvananthapuram.
Different vehicles such as ambulances and other government vehicles will be provided to bring them to the respective polling stations. Besides transportation and ramp facilities, the authorities have also come up with an initiative where they will be arranging companions for the visually-impaired people who will assist them during the election.
The Disability Rights activists are relieved such initiatives have been taken by the government so that the differently-abled can also exercise their rights as Indian citizens but they are also doubtful about its success. “We encourage the initiative of the Election Commission but even if ramps are kept it may not be accessible for us. Transportation facility is what we need. Even the public places have not yet been made disabled-friendly,” said Abdul Manaf, who uses a wheelchair. He also said every year schemes and facilities are promised but nothing is fulfilled.
With this initiative, the differently-abled are hoping for an inclusive election unlike the past elections. “We have been told wheelchair and wheelchair ramp facility will be provided in all the polling stations. Most of us wish to vote but what often happens is we don't have the facility to reach to respective places. This time, the ward members visited and have asked us if we want transportation facilities, which is a good move,” said 41-year-old Sindhu Sudevan from the city who is bound to the wheelchair.