Volume 2 Issue 8 - April 15, 2004

Accessibility is not an expensive issue

DNIS News Network -- Disability Rights Group has outlined how little it would cost for election authorities to make the forthcoming elections disabled-friendly.

The group is campaigning to ensure ramps are provided at polling booths to allow access for wheelchair-using voters. It is also demanding Braille labels for Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), to enable blind and partially sighted people to place their vote in secret.

Lakhs of rupees are spent on preparing polling booths for election day but none of that money is allocated to ensure disabled people are given the same democratic rights as so-called able-bodied voters.

DRG says it would cost no more than Rs 600 for a polling station to be provided with a safe, appropriate ramp. Some polling stations would need smaller ramps which could cut that cost to as little as Rs 200. The provision of Braille stickers for EVMs would cost just Rs 5-10, a small price to pay for ensuring the elections are truly democratic for all eligible voters.

The group has also put its words into action by holding a protest outside the CEC office where demonstrators built ramps of different sizes to show how quick, easy and cheap the process can be.

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