BLANTYRE (MaraPost)—Federation of Disability Organizations in Malawi (Fedoma) says it satisfied with improvements made so far by the Malawi Electoral Commission by introducing sign language in election aware campaigns and also providing tactile ballot guide.
Fedoma and Malawi Union of the Blind (Mub) had been asking the Commission to consider Persons with Visual Impairments by providing tactile ballot papers.
“We are satisfied with improvements done to date by MEC of introducing sign language in some of their campaign materials and also providing the tactile ballot guide.
“This was pre-tested among literate, semi literate and illiterate persons who are blind and it is usable,” said Action Amos, Fedoma’s Executive Director.
Amos said the Commission has assured them every polling centre will have three tactile guides to assist persons with visual impairment to vote, come May 20.
“If the promise is kept then MEC would have respected our right as citizens with disabilities. So we will have our monitors across the country to determine issue on accessibility during the voting be it to physical infrastructure or voting materials,” said Amos.
Mub Executive Director Ezekiel Kumwenda said the visually impaired and deaf-blind voter must use a tactile ballot guide to ensure that they vote independently without the influence of the sighted people.
Kumwenda further said visually impaired and deaf-blind voters should be provided with electoral information in accessible format such as Braille and tactile communication.
“This fundamental right should be promoted and protected by the state. The lack of an inclusive electoral process renders the people with disabilities in effective in safeguard and defending their rights as well as fully participation in affairs affecting their civic and political life,” said Kumwenda.
The core role of the FEDOMA and its member organizations in disability sector and within the wider community is to promote inclusion, representation and participation of people with disability in the mainstream social process as well as ensure their access to quality services