Don’t Disenfranchise Persons with Disabilities– GFD Tells EC

EC

The Ghana Federation of Disability (GFD) has urgently called on the Electoral Commission(EC) to swiftly address challenges that Persons with Disabilities may face during the limited voter registration exercise which is slated for the 12th of September to the 2nd of October, 2023.

According to the Federation, the Electoral Commission’s decision to solely conduct the registration exercise in their Offices may lead to the exclusion of many Persons with Disabilities due to the numerous challenges they face.

Dr Obeng-Asamoah, a Member of the Ghana Federation Organizations Advocacy Committee, briefing the Journalists at a press conference held in Accra, cited accessibility as one of the major challenges that Persons with Disabilities will encounter.

Stressing that most of the District offices of the Electoral Commission are not accessible to persons with physical and other disabilities, and they may find it difficult or impossible to get to the EC offices where the registration will take place.

More so, another challenge the Organization identified was communication; according to them the state institutions, do not have sign language interpreters.

This will make it difficult for individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind to effectively communicate with registration officials and receive proper assistance during registration.

“In effect, they are likely not to be part of the process. Moreover, some persons with disabilities may not have access to sufficient information about the registration exercise due to its location, and how information is being disseminated which can lead to confusion and frustration.

They may not know when or where they can register and as a result they miss out the exercise. For instance, initial awareness videos shown on television about the exercise did not have sign language interpretation to target the deaf community. This means that they even watch the adverts and will not know what happening,” he lamented.

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Dr. Obeng-Asamoah also mentioned proximity as another challenge that the EC must take into account.  It is a major barrier for people with disabilities who may have to travel from their immediate communities to the EC offices with their assistants or assistive/mobility devices such as wheelchairs. This can be an expensive and difficult task for them.

Some persons with disabilities may not be able to afford transport costs, and this may prevent them from participating in the exercise.

“We, Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations would like to call on Electoral Commission to as a matter of urgency put appropriate measures in place to address these challenges and to ensure that all persons with disabilities are able to participate effectively in the registration exercise in line with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities, the Ghana Persons With Disability Act, and other Constitutional Instruments that seek to promote the inclusion of every citizen in the electoral process in Ghana.

We also call on the Electoral Commission to work hand in hand with the organizations of persons with disabilities to provide technical support and advice for effective inclusion of all persons with disabilities in the registration exercise,” he tasked.

The Ghana Federation of Disability has urged the Electoral Commission to address the highlighted challenges and implement necessary measures to enable all persons with disabilities to vote.

Source: Isaac Kofi Dzokpo

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