By Matthew Ogune, Abuja
Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) have urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recruit sign language interpreter volunteers to support their engagement with hearing impaired (deaf) voters on election day.
The Executive Director of Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), David Anyaele made this
demand yesterday in Abuja at the Public Presentation on 2020 Ondo State Governorship Election: An Assessment of INEC’s Preparation for Persons with Disabilities.
Anyaele also urged INEC to encourage hearing impaired (deaf) voters to come with personal sign language interpreters to the polling unit to minimize communication gap.
He asked INEC to ensure strict compliance with health protocols, including the re-design of the polling unit layout and take adequate measure to ensure that polling stations are accessible for physically impaired voters.
He explained: “INEC should make prioritisation of PWD access to voting mandatory,
not advisory. Section 56(2) of the INEC Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2010 states that “The Commission
MAY (emphasis ours) take reasonable steps to ensure that voters with disabilities are assisted at the polling stations by the provision of suitable means of communication, such as Braille, Large embossed print or electronic devices or sign language interpretation, or off
site voting in appropriate cases”. The word “shall”
should replace “may.”
“Make election materials available and accessible as well as the facilities for all PWDs.
“This includes Form
EC40H, polling units, and assistive resources such as sign language interpreters, signage posters, tactile ballot
jackets, magnifying lenses, and disability friendly
“Train INEC ad-hoc officials adequately to understand
and respond to PWD needs.
“Sensitize the public on the needs and challenges of PWDs to reverse negative public perceptions and
attitudes towards them.
“Collaborate with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control,
security agencies, and other stakeholders to fully implement health and safety protocols during voting and
“INEC should collaborate with the security agencies to brace up for security challenges, ensure they carry out proper investigation before stopping anyone wearing facemask with political logos or moving with a bike or taxi on election day to avoid brutality of PWDs as well as to ensure inclusive, credible, free, fair and peaceful
“INEC should consider introducing a secured mobile voting system and make transfer voting locations
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