The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Edo, on Friday trained visually impaired persons on the use of braille ballot guide to vote in the Sept. 19 governorship election in the state.
The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Edo, Johnson Alalibo, while declaring the training session open, said braille ballot guide was designed to include the blind in the electoral process.
Alalibo, who was represented by the INEC Administrative Secretary in Edo, Mr Etim Umoh, said blind voters were at the risk of compromised access to printed ballots and other electoral materials.
The reside t electoral commissioner said INEC recognised the rights of persons with disabilities.
“The commission within its mandate has taken concrete actions to incorporate People with Disabilities (PWDs) in the electoral process with the introduction of the braille ballot guide for use by visually impaired.
“The braille ballot guide was effectively deployed in Osun 2019 general elections and in Kogi election to help secure the right of the blind to vote in secret and independently,” Alalibo said.
According to him, the commission is doing it best to ensure inclusiveness and accessibility for all eligible Nigerians irrespective of their abilities and status.
The Assistant Director, CSO liaison, INEC headquarters, Abuja, Sunny Ezumah, explained that the device enabled the visually impaired voter to place the ballot paper in the guide without assistance.
Ezumah said “the objective of the the training is to educate the participants on the voting process and procedure.
“It is also to educate the participants on the planned activities of the commission towards the governorship election.”
According to him, the braille ballot guide piloted in Osun, marked a critical advancement in opening of Nigeria’s electoral process to voters with disabilities.
Mr Timidi Wariowei, the Head of Voter Education and Publicity in the state spoke on voting procedure and INEC policy framework on election day activities amid COVID-19 pandemic.
Wariowei noted that the voting procedure had not changed, adding that accreditation and voting would take place simultaneously.
He said: “Accreditation and voting would begin at 8.30 a.m. and stop at 2.30 p.m. Anybody on queue before 2.30 p.m. will be allowed to vote.
“This training will enable you to master the braille ballot guide so that you can vote independently. Phones will not be allowed into the voting centres.
“So take the training seriously so that you can also teach others who are not here because of COVID-19, and we have to maintain social distancing.”
According to him, the commission will ensure strict adherence to COVID-19 preventive measures and guidelines on the election day.
Mr Melody Omosa, the President of Network Advocacy for Persons with Visible Disabilities (NAPVID), thanked INEC for the gesture and urged the participants to take the training seriously.
In a related development, INEC also held a one-day voter education and sensitisation forum for sign language interpreters.
INEC said the objective of the forum was to educate and equip sign language interpreters with the relevant knowledge needed to assist it interpret the voting procedure to the deaf at the polling units.