Malawi Union of the Blind (Mub) has stressed the need for the electoral processes to be fully accessible to voters who are blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted.
Mub is among the 200 plus civil society organisations, which have been accredited to conduct voter and civic education among people with visual impairments, blind and deaf-blind as Malawi is gearing for the 2014 tripartite elections.
Speaking on Tuesday after touring Mulanje Vocational and Rehabilitation Centre for the Blind, Mub executive director, Ezekiel Kumwenda, said being the first time in the democratic Malawi for the deaf-blind to cast their votes, the Union is engaging electoral stakeholders on modalities that would ensure minimal null and void votes from the deaf-blind.
“There are so many barriers preventing the blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted citizens from participating fully in the electoral process. These include information about candidates’ platforms, lists and the ballots which are in print form, which we can’t access without the help of someone else. This method is susceptible to manipulation, especially where the escorter holds a different political opinion from the deaf-blind voter,” he said.
He said this shall require amendment of some electoral laws to allow for alternative accessible methods of voting such as introduction of Braille ballots so that the blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted persons are afforded the same rights as their sighted counterparts.
Speaking through sign language, Elita Chamba, who is dumb with visual impairments, said she was ready to exercise her right to vote next year.