Election Commission officers underwent a sign language session earlier this week in collaboration with the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC) to prepare them to communicate with voters with hearing disabilities in the upcoming Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
This training session follows the Election Commission’s National Consultation on Accessible Elections earlier in July, where among other things, it was decided that the poll body would set up sign language windows in all audio-visual training and awareness content material.
According to a report in The Wire, “The officers were imparted knowledge on basic as well as election-related sign languages symbols such as ‘election’, ‘identity card’, ‘address’, and ‘polling booth’.”
In addition, officials from the ISLRTC also imparted necessary information about how election officers must conduct themselves while dealing with people with disabilities. A sensitisation activity was also conducted through the live demonstration of a mock poll to understand the frequently asked questions/issues of the deaf voters.
“The aim of the workshop was to sensitise election officials to the needs of persons with disabilities so as to be better able to respond to their needs and facilitate them during the election process,” says the Press Information Bureau release on the training session.
As part of the Election Commission’s (EC) larger attempt to make the voting process more accessible for the physically disabled, a series of other measures were also listed. The EC 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 enhance accessibility.
The commission is also developing an app for people with disabilities to facilitate their ability to vote, besides making election-related awareness material accessible to them. On the day of polling, persons with disabilities and their attendants will be able to avail free public transport.
Officials at the EC hope that such measures will improve voter turnout in the upcoming elections.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)