Cyprus Mail

Concerns over accessibility issues for disabled voters

File Photo: Dimitris Lambrianides head of the the paraplegics association

Difficulties faced by disabled people when trying to vote may deter them from casting their ballot in elections, Ombudswoman Eliza Savvidou said on Wednesday.
In a statement expressing her concerns that disabled people feel excluded and marginalised, she said every person should be able to freely exercise their right to vote without facing any problems over accessibility.
Head of the paraplegics association Dimitris Lambrianides told the Cyprus Mail that a major issue is that the ledge in the booths where voters fill in their slips are positioned too high to be easily accessible for people with wheelchairs. He said they had been liaising with the interior ministry on the issue for years.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to resolve it, we won’t have time for these elections but hopefully the next.”
But the association said it had managed to ensure that ramps were in place at election centres where their members would be voting.
“We have a list of our members and we know where they will vote. We liaise with the ministry and ramps are available for them there.”
This, according to Lambrianides has been largely successful with a few exceptions where repair works may be in progress.
“This problem needs to be dealt with at a wider level across Cyprus though because it is not just our members. There may be people that are temporarily injured and are in a wheelchair – there should be accessibility for them too.”
Savvides echoed Lamdrianides’ concerns, saying there needed to be proper solutions to the problem and not just temporary fixes.
“Disabled persons are in every district and area they do not necessarily belong to associations for disabled persons and people with difficulties also include elderly people, pregnant women and people temporarily using wheelchairs,” she said.

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