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PWDs: Group urges INEC to provide sign language interpreters for Anambra poll

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PWDs: Group urges INEC to provide sign language interpreters for Anambra poll

By Angela Atabo

The Inclusive Association of Friends (IFA) urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide sign language interpreters at voting and registration centers for the November 6 ballot in Anambra governorate, in order to prevent voter apathy from disabled people (PWD).

Ms. Grace Jerry, Executive Director of IFA, made the call at a press conference Tuesday in Abuja.

The conference marked: “Access Nigeria Campaign Final Observation Statement on Accessibility of Anambra Voter Registration Process for People with Disabilities” aimed to make recommendations to improve accessibility for people with disabilities during the election of Anambra.

Jerry said providing sign language interpreters and disability-specific instructional posters would help residents with hearing impairments and other forms of disability register during continuous voter registration. (CVR) and voting.

She said the IFA-led Access Nigeria campaign observed the CVR process in Anambra.

According to her, the objective of the observation was to verify the accessibility of the CVR process for people with disabilities and to make recommendations that will help INEC to make the process more accessible for people with disabilities in the future.

“Access Nigeria observers reported that INEC did not provide sign language interpreters to assist hearing-impaired citizens to register at the 20 registration centers during the observation period of four weeks.

“The complete lack of sign language interpreters and disability-specific instructional posters excluded and discouraged hearing-impaired citizens from registering on the electoral roll.

“During the observation period, there was a clear absence of security officials in 14 of the 20 registration centers visited.

“With the Anambra elections fast approaching and with increased fear of violence, the absence of security officials in these centers will discourage people with disabilities from engaging in the registration process,” he said. she declared.

She said that if the CVR and other electoral processes were accessible to people with disabilities, it would increase the association’s participation in all phases of the electoral process.

Mr. Oluwaseyi Moses, Program Director, Access Nigeria, IFA, said the group commended INEC for the efforts so far to ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind in the CVR.

Moses said that based on the CVR’s observation, the group made recommendations to remove barriers faced by people with disabilities in the process.

“Police and other security agencies should support INEC in ensuring that all communities across Nigeria are peaceful enough for eligible citizens to register as voters.

“For example, the communal crisis in Ayamelum prevented many residents and observers from participating in the voter registration process.

“INEC should provide mobile and / or permanent ramps and ramps at voter registration centers to facilitate mobility for people with disabilities.

“Alternatively, check-in points at the centers should be located in areas that do not have stairs or other barriers, as this will immediately eliminate the difficulties faced by people with disabilities who use crutches or wheelchairs. “, did he declare.

Moses added that the internal layout of all registration centers should be spacious enough so that all categories of people with disabilities can move around freely without barriers during the CVR.

He said the association wanted INEC to strengthen its oversight of registrars across the country.

He said that the IFA, Access Nigeria campaign called on INEC to immediately incorporate data on people with disabilities, disaggregated by disability types, collected during the Anambra CVR process, into the planning.

This, he said, concerned the deployment of voting aids like the braille voting guide, written instructions on election day, magnifying glasses, during the election of Governor of Anambra.

Moses said the group wanted INEC to strengthen its collaboration with security agencies to ensure adequate deployment of their staff at registration centers.

He said the presence of security agencies would build confidence in the safety of people with disabilities, which in turn would increase their participation.

“The campaign hopes that the Commission will immediately seek to address the challenges identified in this statement as we look forward to the gubernatorial elections,” he said.

Mr. Bem Aga, program director of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), said the institute and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have supported IFA’s Access Nigeria campaign to lead to the project to open up the electoral process to people with disabilities.

Aga said that one of NDI’s goals is to ensure that all people are treated fairly and in accordance with their various conditions as well as to ensure the inclusion of all.

He commended the Access Nigeria report for the report on people with disabilities in the CVR process and urged INEC to take action to address some of the observations and areas of concern highlighted. (www.)

Source: NAN

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