18 Oct Some polling stations in Tashkent are not adapted to the needs of disabled voters
Photo: Dana Oparina / Anhor.uz
A little more than a week remains before the presidential elections in Uzbekistan, but it turns out that some polling stations are not adapted to the needs of disabled people. Anhor.uz journalist Dana Oparina and Deputy Chairperson of the Association of Disabled People Farhod Abdurakhmanov conducted accessibility monitorings of five polling stations in Tashkent.
The Central Election Commission has time to oversee the creation of an accessible environment at polling stations before the start of the elections. Some areas were better in terms of conditions for disabled people, others almost did not have them, but the problems and recommendations for their elimination are of common nature. Below I provide an English translation of Dana Oparina’s article with slight changes.
Polling station No. 24 at school No. 142 in Mirzo-Ulugbek district
Access to the site is hampered by a ditch, because of which Farhad Abdurakhmanov had to go onto a busy road, which put his life at risk. There is a height difference at the gate of the school, which makes it difficult for the wheelchair to enter the territory. There is also a small obstacle before entering the ramp. The ramp itself is equipped with a handrail on only one side, when, according to the standards, there should be two of them.
In order to go through the door, a technician had to be called, since only one door leaf was open.
Farhod Abdurakhmanov noted that there should be sufficient lighting in the voting booth for disabled people, as well as a magnifying glass for people with partial vision loss. According to him, budget funds were allocated for these purposes.
The voting cabin itself was up to standards, but there was no sign that it was intended for people with disabilities.
Prior to elections, the polling site must receive large print and Braille stencils for blind and visually imapired voters.
Farhod Abdurakhmanov also recommended to the representatives of the polling station to install the existing projector in a conspicuous place on election day – a video with sign language translation should be broadcast on it for deaf and hard of hearing voters.
In addition, there are not enough signs on the site about the location of the toilet and the first-aid post.
According to a representative of the school, two children with disabilities study there. At the same time, the toilet in the main building is not adapted to the needs of disabled people and those with reduced mobilities.
About 50 voters with disabilities will vote at this polling station. Farkhod Abdurakhmanov said that the presence of volunteers at the polling station is required to help people with disabilities on election day.
Polling station No. 20 in the academic lyceum International House Tashkent in Mirzo-Ulugbek district
There is a very steep ramp at the main entrance to the lyceum – the wheelchair had to be supported by four hands. Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Uzbekistan has ratified this year, insists on an independent lifestyle for persons with disabilities.
In the voting booth, as in the previous polling station, there is no sufficient lighting, a magnifying glass and a sign that this is a booth for voters with disabilities.
According to a representative of the lyceum, the toilet is not adapted to the needs of people with disabilities. There is a projector at the polling station, which they promised to put in a visible place on election day for broadcasting information with sign language translation.
Polling station No. 21 in the makhalla committee “Mirzakalon Ismoiliy” in Mirzo-Ulugbek district
The ramp has a height difference, and its surface is also too slippery, which will prevent wheelchair users from entering during the period of rains and frosts. The ramp also lacks a railing on the second side.
The doors to the mahalla committee open outward, which prevents a wheelchair user from entering.
Polling station No. 766 in the Gurucharik mahalla center of the Almazar district
This is the polling station to which Farhod Abdurakhmanov belongs. Meanwhile, the ramp is too steep, it has no handrails, and the surface is very slippery.
The cabin for people with disabilities is equipped with a sign, otherwise, the recommendations are the same as for other polling stations.
Polling station No. 765 at school No. 28 in the Almazar district
There is a staircase on the road from the polling station No. 766 to No. 765, which are nearby, which forced Farhad Abdurakhmanov to move along the carriageway. The space in front of the school turned into a parking lot, which also prevented access to the site.
In addition, it was not immediately possible to get into the building itself – the gates were closed. Then it was necessary to overcome the ramp, which also does not have handrails, while it has a high angle of inclination and a slippery surface.
The voting booth is marked with a sign stating that it is for people with disabilities. There is also a monitor for broadcasting a video with sign language translation.
According to a school representative, the toilet is not adapted to the needs of people with disabilities.
Polling station No. 707 at the Republican College of Music and Art
The college is not adapted to the needs of people with disabilities. Farhad Abdurakhmanov did not manage to get inside, because he could not enter the ramp – the ramp is not only narrow and steep but also has no handrails.
The voting booth is not adapted to the needs of people with disabilities, like the toilet in the building.
Representatives of polling stations on the ground are poorly informed – they do not understand where to turn with requests for funds to be allocated to solve the described problems. According to Farhad Abdurakhmanov, representatives should submit inquiries to local authorities.
Previously, there was no accessible environment at the polling stations, which prevented people with disabilities from exercising their suffrage, says the chairman of the Association of Disabled People. Now it has become better – people with disabilities can exercise their rights, but there is still room for improvement in terms of creating an accessible environment.