Thursday, March 20, 2014

Perseverance Pays: Call for inclusive elections (The Hindu)

Perseverance Pays: My media campaigning on the World Disability Day; before
the Delhi election; on the polling day; after the DE; complaint to ECI,
CCPD, DSEC; RTI to ECI, CEO Delhi; campaigning on National Voters Day and
subsequent media coverage is finally getting repaid. The CEO Delhi accepted
our suggestion for inclusive elections. Hard work and strategic planning
certainly works.

Todays 'The Hindu' covers the story:

Call for inclusive elections

Access audit of polling booths by persons with disabilities, pictorial
signage for those with hearing problems, provision for wheel-chair users on
the polling day and involvement of special educators to create videos for
educating the polling staff - these are among the suggestions placed before
the Delhi Election Commission earlier this week by a group of
representatives from various disability groups to ensure that persons with
disabilities are able to participate in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Disability activist Dr. Satendra Singh, who is part of the group, said:
"The Election Commission in a meeting with our group acknowledged the
deficiencies and has promised to rectify it at the earliest. Attitudinal
barrier was acknowledged as the major hindrance."

Members from the Handicapped Welfare Federation have also demanded that
there should be a database of voters with disabilities and that staff from
the Delhi Social Welfare Department should monitor booths.

"We have also said that there is a need to include pictorial signage to
help persons with psychosocial disabilities. Also, persons with cerebral
palsy should have a companion to press the buttons. Currently the benefit
is given only to the blind. Provision of wheelchairs on polling day is also
a matter to be taken care of," added Dr. Singh.

Stating that the Commission should look at establishing a helpline number
for persons with disabilities, Dr. Singh added that special educators be
involved in creating videos for educating and creating awareness among
polling staff.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Election offices lack complete data on disabled voters

Lok Sabha elections are not even a month away. My RTI expose of Election Commission of India's unpreparedness was highlighted on National Voters Day. I filed another one after Delhi Elections and the results are again shocking. The Times of India, The Statesman and now Deccan Herald covered the story in a last ditch effort to sensitize the people.

The complete Deccan Herald story can be read here.

Director General CISF responds to my 'Hyderabad Harassment' complaint

The issue of my ill treatment at Hyderabad was earlier covered in The Times of India, The Hindu, The Hans India. I filed an official complaint with Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities and followed it up with letters to Director General (CISF), DGCA, and Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Director General, CISF immediately responded to my email and instructed his ADG, APS to look into the matter on March 10, 2014.

After a stringent campaign and awareness, DGCA also released its new CAR guidelines. Still the document is far from satisfactory and the fight goes on.

Most polling booths not disabled-friendly (Statesman)

After Times of India, The Statesman covers a detailed coverage on my RTI exposing ill-preparedness of Delhi State Election Commission to safeguard rights of voters with disability. 

CEO Delhi fails to implement Supreme Court order for electors with disability

SC order on disabled voters not implemented
Times of India, Manash Pratim Gohain, 12 March 2014

"Since the same polling booths will be used in next month's election, it is of paramount importance to highlight the violations of the Supreme Court's 2007 judgement and failure of the chief electoral officer, Delhi, to protect the rights of those with disabilities," RTI activist Dr Satendra Singh, from University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi University, said.

A day after the Delhi assembly election, Singh wrote to the chief electoral officer of Delhi, marking copies to chief commissioner of disability and Delhi commissioner of disability, stating that many physically disabled voters were unable to exercise their franchise on December 4 because polling booths were inaccessible. Asked in an RTI query about details of complaints received pertaining to difficulties faced by electors with disabilities and action taken, the replies said no complaint or information was available. "What is the point of having email for grievance on website?" Singh said.

Full article is available here.

Differently abled DU Professor harassed at Hyderabad airport

Dr. Suman K Kasturi also covers the story of my harassment at Hyderabad. He writes in The Hans India:

"Singh, sardonically, was returning from a conference on "Evidence in Global Disability & Health" in Hyderabad. It was with the intervention of a higher official of Airport, Professor Singh was exempted. It was a pathetic condition experienced by a person who is in a noble profession.

The officials said that they were following the guidelines issued to them. There is no doubt that there should not be any compromise on security related issues. Nevertheless, some sort of exceptions like in Professor Singh’s case may be considered at least for future compliance."

The story was earlier covered prominently in Times of India and Hindu.

Read the full report here.