KUALA LUMPUR: The Election Commission (EC) should look at the availability of facilities and services for the disabled during the 15th General Election (GE15) to ensure a disabled-friendly voting session, says Senator Datuk Ras Adiba Radzi (pic).
"This is important to ensure that the rights of the disabled are guaranteed and (they are) given the same access and opportunities, (and) not excluded from or marginalised in the democratic process," said Ras Adiba, who is also OKU Sentral president.
In a statement on Monday (Oct 17), she said that based on Social Welfare Department statistics, there were 466,773 disabled persons from seven categories aged 18 and above in the country as of July 31.
Of this number, 199,254 were physically disabled, she added.
ALSO READ: GE15: Want our vote? Support persons with disabilities
Ras Adiba recommended that polling centres chosen should be accessible and have disabled-friendly features including mobile ramps, parking, toilets and wheelchairs.
She also suggested that sign language interpreters be provided at polling centres for those with hearing disabilities, and for improvement of the voter registration system to make it accessible to all categories of disabled people, including the visually impaired.
"The ballot paper needs to be visually impaired-friendly with the provision of braille ballot paper, as has been implemented in Tamil Nadu, India, and the table provided for voting must have a suitable height for wheelchair users,” she said, adding that audio-based applications should also be developed to assist the group during the election.
Ras Adiba said EC officers should also go through disability equality training to increase their own awareness of others' needs, and this could be included in the preparation module for them ahead of GE15.
In addition, she said the EC should organise a special workshop in collaboration with organisations for the disabled to enable Systematic Voters' Education And Electoral Participation (SVEEP) programmes and appoint Social Welfare officers trained in the provision of accessible facilities in each constituency.
ALSO READ: Disability not a barrier to patriotism
"I sincerely hope that the EC can ensure that all the facilities, technology, voter education and so on are implemented in line with the concept of inclusion as the main component of the Malaysian Family concept," she said.
Interim Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced the dissolution of Parliament on Oct 10 to pave the way for GE15, which must be held within 60 days of the date of dissolution in accordance with Article 55 (4) of the Federal Constitution.
The EC is due to meet on Thursday (Oct 20) to decide on nomination and polling dates. – Bernama