Earlier this month, the Election Commission announced the launch of the electoral photo identity card (EPIC) in braille for millions of India’s visually impaired citizens.
Taking the initiative one step further, the braille EPIC cards were issued to three visually impaired voters in Karnataka in a bid to make the voting process a lot more inclusive.
Irrapa Hejagar from Gokak in Belagavi, Basvaraj from Jewargi in Kalburgi and Vina from Harihar received their braille EPIC cards from senior officials of the Karnataka election commission.
Voters will use these cards in the upcoming 2019 general elections. All the three visually impaired voters who received braille EPIC cards told media people that they had all voted in the Karnataka Assembly elections held earlier this year.
This is part of the Election Commission’s larger attempt to make the entire voting process more accessible for those with physical disabilities. It also listed out a series of other measures.
For starters, the Election Commission will establish auxiliary polling stations for those with physical disabilities. Besides, they will appoint disability coordinators at the state, district and assembly constituency levels to oversee measures that would enhance accessibility.
In addition, the commission is developing an app for people with disabilities that will facilitate their ability to vote, besides making election-related awareness material accessible to them. For those with hearing disabilities, the poll body will set up “sign language windows in all audio-visual training and awareness contents of the EC,” reported Deccan Herald.
On the day of polling, persons with disabilities and their attendants will be able to avail free public transport, said this report in the same publication.
Officials at the Election Commission hope that such measures improve voter turnout in the upcoming elections. Democracy is all about inclusion. Without the participation of those with disabilities, democracy means little because a significant part of our populace is left out of the process.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)