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New Delhi : The motto of ‘Accessible Elections’ was one among the many initiatives of the Election Commission of India (ECI)  to make the world’s largest democratic exercise inclusive and participative for all. During this election special focus was given to ensure the participation of Persons with Disabilities. A total of 62,63,701 PwDs were registered within an electorate of 910 million.

The electors with disabilities and senior citizens were mapped polling stationwise to provide them targeted and need based assistance on the day of poll. During the election, all the polling stations were equipped with enough supply of wheelchairs and it was ensured that all polling stations had sturdy ramps for the convenience of PwD electors. All the polling stations in Lok Sabha Election 2019 had a sign language expert, signage and transport facility.

To facilitate PwDs during the enrollment process door to door registration drives were carried out, a special mobile application was also developed by the Commission for easy registration. On the day of poll, electors with disabilities could also avail the services like pick up and drop, wheelchairs and special volunteers through this app.

Special focus was laid on the sensitisation of the polling personnel about the unique needs of the differently abled. For smooth and convenient voting experience the elderly and electors with disability were given priority access in the polling station. Further, they were provided with special volunteers who assisted and guided them at the polling station.

This election was witness to many firsts in the domain of accessibility of all; EVMs used in the elections were embossed with Braille signage for the visually impaired voters’ assistance. It was the first time that EPICs with braille were provided to the visually impaired electors. Other documents like voters’ slip, voter guide had braille signage too. Accessibility Observers were introduced, who ensured all the polling stations are accessible to the PwDs.

For the convenience and facilitation of voters, polling stations were equipped with clean drinking water, adequate furniture for voters in the queue, shed, and toilets for the voters. Facilities like medical aid with basic supplies were also provided on the day of poll. Proper arrangement of crèche with a trained attendant was also available for children accompanying the electors.

Other than nationwide initiatives, States also innovated and enhanced the spirit of accessibility. In mountainous and hilly terrains of Uttarakhand, Himachal, J&K, initiative of Divyang Sarathi and DivyangDolis was rolled out to facilitate PwDs and senior citizens. In Delhi the officials innovated and provided Magnifying Sheets at every polling booth for better facilitation of electors with low vision. As an act of gratitude, the Delhi CEO office also felicitated the centenarian voters and provided them with special services on the day of poll, celebrating the voters’ contribution in democracy, according to a PIB release.

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