For the first time ever, to facilitate differently-abled voters to exercise their franchise, the Delhi Election Commission has requested 2,500 wheelchairs on polling day. Over 80,000 disabled voters, including visually challenged and hearing impaired are registered in the Capital. In another first, each of the 11,763 polling stations in the national Capital will have a sign language expert on standby to aid the hearing impaired.
Wheelchairs and ramps were introduced in earlier elections to aid the disabled voter but this time election officials will ensure better care and attention. Similar arrangements are likely to be in effect around the country but the Delhi Election Commission is pioneering special initiatives. It has roped in 11 NGOs working for the disabled to ensure the arrangements for voting are a smooth affair. However, total 600 wheelchairs are being provided by the Union Social Welfare Ministry yet. For the balance wheelchairs, Delhi
Chief Electoral Officer has sought the help of NGOs and hospitals for providing wheelchairs for the physically challenged voters. According to Chief Electoral Officer Vijay Dev, the Ministry has agreed to provide only 600 wheelchairs for polling purposes. The electoral office is in process to arrange wheelchairs from private hospitals and Government hospitals for electoral purposes. “We have to ensure that hospital work should not suffer,” Dev added.
“We will train the officials using videos projecting the special care the visually impaired, deaf and dumb and the physically handicapped people need,” Dev said. He said the Commission will also encourage disabled voters to vote by launching a ‘motivational campaign’. “The disabled face severe problems standing in the long queue and often get confused while casting their vote in the Electronic Voting Machine due to similarity in the party symbols. We will also ensure adequate number of Braille ballot papers for the visually impaired in every polling booth,” said Dev.
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