Disability Issues Will Be On Voters' Minds At The Polls
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 20, 2004
INDIA--You've no doubt heard the phrase, "there's safety in numbers".
Well, the 73 residents of the Khadki Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre have learned there's access in numbers.
Next Monday, when the general elections are held, all of them will travel the one kilometer down the road to their polling place, the Rangehill Primary School. Elections officials there made sure a wooden ramp was installed so the dozens of wheelchair users from the center can access the ballot box.
"Of course, we're voting," resident Neer Bahadur Gurung told Express India. "After all, it is our right."
The voters pointed out that the ramp is provided because so many of them vote at the school. They said they worry about access at polling places where only one or two voters use wheelchairs, along with other facilities.
"A government ruling says that access to the wheelchair-bound must be provided in government buildings and public services like banks, hospitals, post offices and so on. But how far is that followed?" asked Prem Singh Patwal.
Another resident asked, "Why can't we have hydraulic systems in buses? Why can't we have a coach for the disabled in every train? Why can't we watch a movie in a theatre? Why are we treated inhumanly? The Prime Minister offered to give us money after we got back medals from Busan Asian Games -- Why dont politicians keep their promises?"
While refusing to reveal who they wish to elect, voters at the facility noted that issues such as accessibility influence their votes.
So do empty promises.