Promoting Inclusivity in Political Discourse: Election Commission’s Guidelines

In its commitment to accessible and inclusive elections, the Election Commission of India is taking significant steps to ensure equal participation of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). In a groundbreaking move, the Commission has issued guidelines to political parties and their representatives to foster inclusivity and respect in the political discourse concerning the PwD community.

Key Guidelines for Political Parties and Candidates

The Election Commission urges political parties and their candidates to adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Avoiding Derogatory Language: Political parties and their representatives should refrain from using ill, derogatory, or insulting references regarding disabilities or PwDs in public statements, speeches, writings, articles, outreach materials, or political campaigns.
  2. Contextual Sensitivity: Disability or terms related to disabilities should not be used in the context of human incapacity during public speeches, writings, articles, or political campaigns.
  3. Preventing Stereotypes: Strict avoidance of comments related to disabilities or PwDs that may be offensive, perpetuate stereotypes, or reinforce prejudices is essential.
  4. Legal Consequences: Usage of derogatory language, mockery, or insults to PwDs may attract provisions of Section 92 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016.
  5. Internal Review Process: All campaign materials, including speeches, social media posts, advertisements, and press releases, must undergo an internal review process within political parties to identify and rectify any instances of ableist language.
  6. Declaration of Commitment: Political parties should declare on their websites their commitment to using disability and gender-sensitive language, respecting human equality, equity, dignity, and autonomy.
  7. Rights-Based Terminology: Political parties are encouraged to use rights-based terminologies as outlined in the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
  8. Accessibility Measures: Public speeches, campaigns, activities, and events conducted by political parties should be accessible for all citizens. Websites and social media content should be digitally accessible for persons with disabilities.
  9. Training Module: Political parties are encouraged to provide a training module on disability for party workers at all levels, appoint a nodal authority to address complaints related to ableist language, and strive to include more PwDs in various roles within the party.

Background and Commitment to Inclusion

The Election Commission has been actively working towards creating a conducive environment for PwDs to participate in the electoral process. Facilities such as accessible polling stations, Braille signage on EVMs, ramps, separate queues, wheelchairs, and accessible toilets have been introduced. The home voting facility, particularly for PwD voters with a benchmark disability of 40%, has gained popularity. The Commission emphasizes that the objective of accessible and inclusive elections can only be fully achieved when political parties and candidates join the cause, treating all PwDs with respect and dignity.

Legal Framework and Protection

The Right for Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, plays a crucial role in protecting the rights of PwDs. Section 7 of the Act provides protection from all forms of abuse, violence, and exploitation, while Section 92 outlines punishment for offenses related to such actions. The Election Commission’s guidelines aim to reinforce these legal provisions and promote a society that does not discriminate based on disability.



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