CHENNAI: People with disabilities continued to face several hardships while casting their votes in the city on Tuesday.
Wheelchairs were either unavailable or in short supply for voters with locomotor impairment, while people with visual impairment said they were unable to vote independently.
At St Mark’s School in Chromepet, when asked if a wheelchair was available, volunteers said it was not. At the Seventh Day Adventist School in Tambaram, a wheelchair was brought in at around 10:30 am before which several senior citizens and persons with disability had already cast their vote with the help of relatives and volunteers. At the Holy Angels School in Tambaram, an 80-year-old woman had to be helped up the stairs by her son and daughter-in-law after the only available wheelchair was occupied.
Raghuraman K, a person with visual impairment, who cast his vote at Sitadevi Garodia School in East Tambaram said he could not cast his vote independently.
“I had asked the polling officer for Braille ballot papers. They ignored the request and asked me to go inside with a person I didn’t know to assist me and paid no heed to my attempts to cast my vote independently,” he said.
Namburajan S, general secretary of the Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of All Types of Differently Abled and Caregivers (TARTADAC), had cast his vote at St Britto’s Matriculation School.
“In one of the booths, the pathway where voters waited was only about 4.5 feet wide. There was no space for a wheelchair. They also cannot be moved to the front of the queue on priority because of lack of space,” he told The New Indian Express.
S Maan Kumar of the December 3 movement and a resident of the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board in Perumbakkam has a locomotor disability.
“We went to cast our vote at the Government High School in Perumbakkam. There was no wheelchair available when we went and we waited for an hour for them to bring it. Even then, the ramp did not allow us to navigate by ourselves and we needed help,” he said.