Chief Election Commissioner – Rajiv Kumar along with Election Commissioner – Anup Chandra Pandey chaired the first ever ‘National Conference of Persons with Disabilities (PwD) Icons for Accessible Elections’ organized by Election Commission of India at Rang Bhavan Auditorium, Akashvani in New Delhi on Friday.
In his address, CEC Shri Rajiv Kumar said that ECI is committed to mainstream and deeply embed the concept and practice of accessibility in all its processes and functioning. While highlighting various initiatives taken by ECI to make elections more PwD friendly, CEC said that ECI will consider the suggestions received in the Conference to make elections more inclusive. He added that ECI is also collaborating with the Department of Person with Disabilities for reaching out to identify more voters with special needs.
Election Commissioner Shri Anup Chandra Pandey, who also spoke on the occasion, said that a forum such as this conference provides an opportunity to brainstorm and exchange ideas for making our elections more accessible and inclusive. He stressed that the focus of ECI has been to enhance participation, strengthen facilitation, mould public perceptions about the potential of PwDs and include their voice as equal citizens that set the stage for their social and economic integration. Accessible and Inclusive elections to all eligible voters have been an underlying non-negotiable premise of the Election Commission of India.
Shri Rajesh Agarwal, Secretary DEPwD in his remarks recalled the ground covered by ECI over the years in making elections more inclusive, accessible and participative. Padma Shree Dr Niru Kumar, ECI’s PwD national Icon in her remarks appreciated the commendable efforts instituted by ECI to facilitate PwD voters and sensitization of the election machinery to provide comfortable voting experience to the PwD voters.
The State PwD icons interacted with the Commission in person as also virtually from CEO offices from Delhi, Kerala, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Mizoram, Chandigarh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal mentioning their experiences and suggestions to make elections more PwD friendly. Senior officials from DePwD, All India Radio, ECI and representatives from civil society organizations also attended the conference.
CEC Shri Rajiv Kumar along with EC Shri Anup Chandra Pandey launched the PwD App 2.0, the updated version of mobile app to facilitate various services to PwDs from the process of registration to availing pick and drop facility on the poll day. In the new avatar, the design, layout, interface and features of the app have been revamped. The Interface of PwD App has been made accessible & user friendly with features such as Screen reader, Text to Speech, Visibility enhancements, colour adjustments etc.
The Commission also launched a training module for sensitization of election personnel regarding PwDs and senior citizens.
The conference was virtually attended from the NIC Studio at Aizawl by the Mizoram Team, which included Jt. CEO Shri David L. Pachuau, Asst CEO Smt. Laldinfeli and State PwD Icon Asst. Prof. Lalbuatsaiha of J. Thangkima College, who was also given opportunity to speak and interact with the other participants.