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An Initiative for Political inclusion of Blind people has sent for suggestion by the SC

  • Published
    10th Oct, 2022
Context

Recently, a petition admitted by the Supreme Court that called for the introduction of ITTS technology to allow blind voters to verify their votes has set off a debate, with some disability rights activists raising concerns over the practical issues that may crop up.

The present method

  • At present, a blind voter could vote with the help of a companion who would be able to read the VVPAT slip or vote on their own using the Braille signs on the EVM, but not be able to verify the vote.
  • This method raised issues of autonomy and secrecy.

Voters with disabilities

  • Voters having one of the 21 disabilities, mentioned by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016, are termed as voters with disabilities.
  • The 21 disabilities include blindness, low vision, dwarfism, locomotor disability, intellectual disability, mental illness, among others.
  • According to the 2011 Census, there are about 2.68 crore disabled persons in India, of whom about 50 lakh persons have disability in seeing.
  • But their votes carry just as much importance as any other. 

Barriers to electoral participation for PwD category

  • inadequate or inaccessible voter education
  • difficulties in voter registration and physical access to polling stations
  • inability to vote independently and privately
  • absence of or inappropriate assistance from poll personnel

How ITTS software can help?

  • It is a stand-alone, real-time system to capture the image of the paper slip generated by the printer in VVPAT, extract text from it and convert the text into speech that can be listened to through the headphones. 
  • The ITTS device consists of four main components:
    • Camera
    • programmable system (optical character recognition software and text-to-speech engine)
    • headphones
    • battery

Concerns associated

  • The ITTS option would not address voters with ‘sensory dual disabilities (deaf blind)’, though the option of postal ballots was available to persons with disabilities.
  • Machine malfunction can lead to further complex process of investigation.
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