Thursday, December 21, 2023

Election Commission of India takes intiatives for accessible elections and respectful language for persons with Disabilities

The very foundation of democracy lies in representation of all communities in the electoral process including persons with disabilitiess. Accessible and Inclusive elections have therefore, been a non-negotiable priority for the Election Commission of India  (ECI) in particular to ensure equal participation of Persons with Disabilities. Section of 11 of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016  provides as under:

"11. Accessibility in voting. - The Election Commission of India and the State Election Commissions shall ensure that all polling stations are accessible to persons with disabilities and all materials related to the electoral process are easily understandable by and accessible to them."

ECI has been striving to promote the principle of accessibility and inclusivity in the elections in line with the above mandate and understaken several intiatives.

Training Module on Sensitization of Field Level Officess

To the above effect, the ECI Team has prepared detailed "Training Module on Sensizitation and Capacity Building  of Field Level Officers on Accessibility Measures"  (visit Link to Training Module PDF 17 MB)

Advisory against use of Derogratory or offensie language about Persons with Disabilities

Off late, the Commission was been made aware of use of derogatory or offensive language in the political discourse about Persons with Disabilities. Usage of such semantics in speech/ campaign by members of any political parties or their candidates, can be interpreted as an affront to Persons with Disabilities.

Common examples of ableist language are words like dumb (gunga), retarded (pagal, sirphira), blind (andha, kana), deaf (behra), lame (langda, lula, apahij) etc. It is necessary to avoid usage of such derogatory language. PwDs have to be accorded, justice and respect in political discourse.

Thus to promote inclusivity and respect in the language of political campaigns and related communications, ECI has issued following guidelines to all political parties and their representatives on conduct towards Persons with disabilities.

The Advisory and press release can be accessed at the links below:

Link to ECI Advisory to Political Parties in respect of PwDs dated 20 Dec 2023 

Link to Press Release by ECI dated 21 Dec 2023 

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