By Our Correspondent
Cross River Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Sylvester Okey Ezeani has presented election material to visually impaired persons in the State.
The items presented were in response to a demand forwarded to the national office of the commission by people living with disabilities in November 2014 and Cross River has become the first state to give such materials out to Persons Living With Disabilities (PWDs).
Items given included 100 copies of Accreditation/Voting Procedure manual,13 frequently asked questions brochures,140 wrong and Right Voting Guides,100 copies of Voting Offences and Penalty and 142 copies of general election dates among others.
Speaking during the presentations at INEC Office in Calabar, the State Resident Electoral Commissioner said it was part of the promise made by the Chairman in ensuring that People Living with Disabilities were given adequate information and guide before and during the polls.
“It is the commission’s desire that you make adequate use of these materials as part of the effort of INEC to give visually impaired persons a sense of belonging in the electoral processes.” He said.
Dr. Joseph Agba, Cross River State President of Visually Impaired Persons who was full of appreciation to the commission said in the past, INEC has not considered their plight just as he said many other government agencies do not put the interest of the visually impaired persons, in particular into consideration as well as that of PWDs in general.
“This is the first time any public office will be distributing materials like this and it’s a good development, many people organize workshops and seminars without considering the plight of the visually impaired.
“I’m going to give this information directly including students in the University.” He said.
A stakeholders meeting facilitated by Human and Organizational Resources Development Centre (HORDC) in partnership with Disability Policy and Advocacy Initiative (DPAI) had in November 2014 requested that election/voting materials (ballot papers) from INEC be produced in Braille or tactile formats for blind and partially sighted persons.
The meeting also requested that blind and partially sighted persons be allowed to come with a person of their choice to assist them during the election and that electoral officials are properly trained to provide necessary assistance to blind and partially sighted persons among others.
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