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Deafness and hearing impairment can have profound effects on people of all ages. Helen Keller, who was blind and deaf, said “blindness separates us from things, but deafness separates us from people.”
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Voting to be made easier for disabled

NEW DELHI: The office of chief electoral officer (CEO) is focusing on making all polling booths in city accessible to voters with disabilities. The office has adopted 'voting with a pleasant difference this time for persons with disabilities' as its theme while preparing for Lok Sabha elections in capital on April 10.

It is also planning a detailed media campaign and checklists for polling booths, separate queues, wheelchairs and parking facilities for people with disabilities, said Vijay Dev, CEO, Delhi. All nodal officers at booths will be accountable for seamless conduct of elections and action will be taken if any problem is reported by voters with disability, he added.

the newspaper Times of India had reported on March 12 that how despite Delhi going to polls in less than a month, there is still no record on number of disabled voters, and no information on complaints and action taken on violations of Supreme Court's order to provide facilities in polling booths for them.

The Right To Information (RTI) replies also revealed that little seems to have changed since December 4 Assembly elections, when scores of disabled voters had to bear with various hurdles at booths. Many disabled voters then lodged complaints with election commission and commissioner for persons with disabilities.

At an emergency meeting on March 14, CEO decided to take appropriate measures to address issue. Campaign materials are already being prepared to sensitize public, Dev said. "All booths will have wheelchairs and a separate queue for people with disability and elderly citizens. They will also have access to separate parking and special toilets."

The CEO added, "Rule 49N that allows use of a companion for blind/infirm will be explained to officials and facility will be extended to those people having cerebral palsy etc."

Awanish Kumar Awasthi, joint secretary in department of disability affairs, has offered to provide wheelchairs from social justice and empowerment ministry, said officials. He has also emphasized need to sensitize booth officers and police officials.

Dev also stressed on maintaining data of voters with disability, while Awasthi and Dr Satendra Singh from University College of Medical Sciences urged inclusion of persons with psychosocial/ intellectual disability and use of pictorial diagrams for hearing impaired and persons with learning disability.

"We are also actively engaging for first time with all NGOs and civil society organization in this field as well as ministry of social justice," said Dev.
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