Disability rights groups conduct accessbility audit at polling booths
Asia-Pacific, March 30 2017
CHENNAI, INDIA: Members of disability rights groups along with Chennai Corporation assistant engineers conducted an access audit of polling stations and booths in the R.K. Nagar constituency on Monday. The constituency has a total of 51 polling stations comprising 256 booths.
The audit follows a meeting the groups had with Praveen Nair, Regional Deputy Commissioner (north), Chennai Corporation last week, to discuss making the facilities for the by-election accessible.
“The audit went very well and we managed to cover 98% of the polling stations. We had a very good experience with the Corporation engineers,” said Smitha Sadasivan, a member of the Disability Rights Alliance, Tamil Nadu, one of the groups involved. Only a few schools did not allow the groups, as examinations were going on at that point, she said.
The members found that about 40% of the polling booths were accessible, while 60% required work.
While most schools had ramps in place, some ramps needed modifications as their gradients were not up to the standard, said Ms. Sadasivan. She added that at two places where there were unlevelled surfaces, the engineers had the barriers removed immediately.
T. Vairamani, deputy general secretary, TN Udavikkaram Association for Welfare of Differently Abled also one of the involved groups, said some of the ramps did not have hand rails, and that in some places, the ramps were not placed properly. He also said the main issue was with school bathrooms.
“Hardly any toilets were accessible, and many were dirty and damaged,” said Ms. Sadasivan.
P. Saravannan, deputy general secretary, December 3 movement, said that in some classrooms, the tiled floors were slippery and would pose difficulties. The group also found that in some places, there were obstacles just before or after the ramps or at the entrance to the school gates. Feedback and photographs from the audit would be provided to Corporation engineers as well as to Mr. Nair, he said.
The groups, in their meeting, had also asked for sign language interpreters at the control room for grievance redressal, for presiding officers to be connected to the interpreters in case of any issues. .