ECI Issues Guidelines to Political Parties

Back Ground:

  • The Commission has been made aware of the use of derogatory or offensive language in the political discourse about Persons with Disabilities (PwDs).
  • Usage of such semantics in speech/ campaign by members of any political parties or their candidates can be interpreted as an affront to the PwDs.
  • Common examples of ableist language are words like dumb (Gunga), retarded (pagal, sirphira), blind (andha, kana), deaf (behra), lame (langda, lula, apahij) etc.
  • The Right for Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 provides for the protection of rights of the Persons with Disabilities.
  • Section 7 of the said Act protects from all forms of abuse, violence and exploitation.
  • Section 92 of the Act lists out punishment for such offences.

The Guidelines Are Given Below:

  1. Political parties and their representatives should not use ill/ derogatory/ insulting references on disability or PwDs during any public statement/ speech, in their writings/articles/ outreach material or in political campaigns.
  2. Political parties and their representatives should not use disability/ PwDs or terms referring to disability/ PwDs in the context of human incapacity during any public speech, in their writings/articles, or in political campaigns.
  3. Political parties and their representatives should strictly avoid comments related to disabilities/ PwDs that may be offensive or perpetuate stereotypes and prejudices.
  4. Any usage of such language, terminology, context, mockery, derogatory references or insult to PwDs as mentioned in points (i), (ii) and (iii) may attract provisions of Section 92 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016.
  5. All campaign materials, including speeches, social media posts, advertisements, and press releases, must undergo an internal review process within the political party to identify and rectify any instances of ableist language, offensive or discriminatory towards individuals/ PwDs.
  6. All political parties should ensure and should declare on their website that they will use Disability & gender-sensitive language and etiquette as well as respect inherent human equality, equity, dignity and autonomy.
  7. All political parties shall use rights-based terminologies as mentioned in CRPD (Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities) and not incline towards any other terminology.
  8. All political parties shall make their public speeches/ campaigns/ activities/ events accessible to all citizens.
  9. All political parties may make their website and social media content digitally accessible to allow accessible interaction with persons with disabilities.
  10. All political parties may provide a training module on disability for party workers at all levels of the political process and shall appoint nodal authority to hear complaints from persons with disabilities about usage of ableist language.
  11. Political parties may endeavour to include more PwDs at levels such as members and party workers to shed the attitudinal barrier between the party and the public and provide equal opportunities.

Facilities for PwDs:

  • Having the location of a polling station on the ground floor.
  • Braille signage on the Ballot Unit of EVM.
  • Construction of ramps with proper gradient.
  • Separate queues (priority entry).
  • Wheelchairs.
  • Permitting a companion to accompany blind/infirm voters.
  • Accessible toilets.
  • Adequate signage explaining the process of voting.
  • Home voting facility for PwD voters with a
  • Benchmark disability of 40% may choose to avail of this optional facility.
Posted in Current Affairs.