Elections will be made accessible for PwDs: CEO

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Dimapur, April 25: Taking forward the 2018 NVD theme ‘Accessible Elections’, the CEO Nagaland Wednesday held a consultative meeting on ‘Inclusion of Persons with Disability in electoral process’ for devising a comprehensive strategy for the PwDs at Hotel Japfu.
Chairing the meeting, CEO Nagaland Abhijit Sinha highlighted the recently conducted election relating to PwDs. He said efforts were made for providing easy accessible for the PwDs, providing wheel chairs, temporary ramps etc. in selected locations, in spite of the herculean challenge they faced progress were seen.
It is necessary to look at the consolidated picture of outcomes, good practices including innovations and technological support, the existing barriers and addressing those barriers, the consultation will start from the district level and consolidation will emerge as we move up to the national level, he said.
He also appreciated and acknowledged the DC & DEO Wokha for initiating the first of its kind ‘Polling station comprising 100% entirely of PwDs’ besides with some more innovative steps. However, he expressed regret over the outdated survey data of the number of PwDs enrolled till date which is very less for various reasons. “Our society at many levels side step PwDs for some reasons but he said we still have a good time enough to utilize for the improvement of the PwDs.”
He urged the departments, NGOs, stakeholders involved in PwDs to start revisiting, have intensive meetings and come up with innovative inputs and concrete points and propose their suggestions to the Government.
Additional CEO, N. Moa Aier elaborated on SVEEP and Electoral participation. He said 7 cases were categorized at the initial stage for the PwDs but now it has been considered and increased to 21 categories. He urged the PwDs to take active part in the electioneering process as they are fully associated and counted so that they can contribute a major role in the election process.
Deputy Mission Director, SSA, L. Khukiye Sema highlighted some of the consolidated statement of schools with and without barrier free access under SSA, he said 2066 schools including higher secondary are availing facilities like ramps, water, toilet, electricity, etc till date.
Meanwhile, State Disability Commissioner, Dr. Atha Vizol emphasized his views on the facilities provisions, aid and appliances, fund constraints, scholarships and monthly pensions for the PwDs, buildings by laws for the PwDs is yet to be completed in so many public sector.
DC & DEO, Wokha Manazir Jeelani Samoon shared his experience and presented a slide show on the last election manning the polling station and introducing the 100% PwDs polling station. With the motto ‘No voters to be left behind’ in which all categories of voters have to be engaged in electoral participation. In this context inclusion of person with disabilities is an important focus area, he stated.
Meanwhile, Christina from Deaf Ministry emphasized on the importance of sign language and explained the hardship face by them in communicating which turns out to be a major barrier for them to socialize.
State Icon for PwDs, Diethono Nakhro in her suggestion for better inclusion of persons with disabilities in electoral process, stated that the CEO/DEO websites must strictly comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 – Level AA by the W3C, all documents/circulars, audio visuals, apps, etc, concerning election/voter matters need to meet accessibility standards, Voter Facilitation Centres need to be in accessible formats.
After much deliberation, points were noted for a fresh specific survey to identify and enrol the PwDs, extra posters and pamphlets for awareness, mapping of electoral roll for PwDs, emphasis on more workshops, special camps and trainings for both BLOs and PwDs, user friendly websites for the PwDs, etc. (Page News Service)