People living with disability (PWD) have urged the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to provide materials information, education and electoral materials in braille and sign languages for the visually and hearing impaired respectively.
Speaking during an engagement forum with the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP), Chief Executive Officer for the Vision for Blind Harrison Karume said that the two categories of disabilities have mostly been left out in voter education considering the form in which the message is being packaged.
Karume said that although in 2013 they could access ballot papers in braille form, there is still need for the commission to put more effort and ensure their voting process is not compromised because of their physical disability.
“We urge IEBC to have the data of the PWD in a polling station and provide them with enough materials for voting; as the rest of the Kenyans we also deserve to vote by a secret ballot in the election,” said Karume.
On his part, Abdul Hassan, a representative of people with short stature condition, asked for the provision of voting booths that are of lower size so that they do not need to be carried to vote.
“We were humiliated in 2017 as some of us were forced to be carried in order to be able to cast a ballot. In such a situation some people laugh at us and it’s demoralizing,” he said.
Hassan also said that they would wish to have an engagement forum with IEBC at local levels so that they can air their grievances for consideration during the voting period.
“We have been left out in voter education and any other engagement the commission is conducting, our representatives at the national level have never addressed such challenges we are facing,” he added.
Richard Otieno from ORPP Mombasa office urged PWDs to walk the talk if they are to be recognized and secure their share of the national cake. “I urge all PWDS to register as members of political parties to claim their rightful share in national representation,” said Otieno.
He said that so far they have made some good progress but also challenged the members to be active participants in political parties so that they can be heard noting that only if they are active they can be nominated.
“If you want representation to come out and fight for that chance, do not sit in the corner and complain that your grievances are not fully addressed. Get ready and lead from the front row,” added Otieno.
By Chari Suche