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KUALA LUMPUR: The Election Commission (EC) should look at the availability of facilities and services for the disabled during the 15th General Election (GE15) to ensure a disabled-friendly voting session, says Senator Datuk Ras Adiba Radzi.

“This is important to ensure that the rights of the disabled are guaranteed and given the same access and opportunities so that they are not excluded and marginalised in the democratic process,“ said Ras Adiba, who is also OKU Sentral president, in a statement today.

She said that based on the statistics of the Social Welfare Department (JKM), as of July 31, 2022, there were 466,773 disabled persons from seven categories aged 18 and above, of which 199,254 were physically disabled.

Ras Adiba recommended that the polling centres chosen should be accessible to the disabled and all centres should have disabled-friendly features including the provision of mobile ramps, parking for the disabled, toilets for the disabled and wheelchairs.

She also suggested that sign interpreters be provided at the polling centre for those with hearing disabilities, besides improving the voter registration system to be accessible to all categories of disabled people including the visually impaired.

“The ballot paper needs to be visually impaired-friendly with the provision of braille ballot paper, as has been implemented in Tamil Nadu, India, and the table provided for voting must have a suitable height for wheelchair users,” she said, adding that audio-based applications should also be developed to assist the group during the election.

Ras Adiba said EC officers should also go through Disability Equality Training (DET) to increase the public’s awareness of disability, and that it could be included in the preparation and training module of EC officers for GE15.

In addition, she said the EC should organise a special workshop in collaboration with organisations for the disabled to educate disabled voters with Systematic Voters’ Education And Electoral Participation (SVEEP) as well as appoint JKM officers trained on the provision of facilities for the group in each constituency.

“I sincerely hope that the EC can ensure that all the facilities, technology, voting education and so on are implemented in line with the concept of inclusion as the main component of the Keluarga Malaysia concept,“ she said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced the dissolution of Parliament on Oct 10 to pave the way for GE15, which must be held within 60 days of the date of dissolution in accordance with Article 55 (4) of the Federal Constitution. - Bernama