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EC asks parties not to use derogatory words for persons with disabilities in political discourse | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: The Election Commissionhas asked political parties not to use derogatory words for persons with disabilities in public discourse, saying usage of such semantics in speech by politicians and candidates can be interpreted as an affront to such people. In an advisory issued to parties on Wednesday, the poll panel said the very foundation of democracy lies in representation of all communities in the electoral process.
“Of late, the Commission has been made aware of use of derogatory or offensive language in the political discourse about people with disabilities (PwDs). Usage of such semantics in speech/campaign by members of any political parties or their candidates, can be interpreted as an affront to the PwDs,” it warned.
Common examples of ableist language, the advisory said, are words like dumb (gunga), retarded (pagal, sirphira), blind (andha, kana), deaf (behra), lame (langda, lula, apahij).
“It is necessary to avoid usage of such derogatory language. PwDs have to be accorded, justice and respect in political discourse/campaign,” the EC said.
Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar has on various forums emphasised that PwDs are actually more able than us. They have faculties which are even better than us, so what they need is equity and accessibility at every stage, and not mere sympathy.
The advisory said political parties and their representatives should not use disability, PwDs or terms referring to disability in the context of human incapacity during any public speech, in their writings or political campaign.
It also said that political parties and their representatives should strictly avoid comments related to disabilities that may be offensive or perpetuate stereotypes and prejudices.
“Any usage of such language, terminology, context, mockery, derogatory references or insult to PwDs … may attract provisions of Section 92 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016,” it cautioned.
It said political parties “may endeavour” to include more PwDs at levels such as members and party workers to shed the attitudinal barrier of the party and public and provide equal opportunities.
All campaign materials, including speeches, social media posts, advertisements and press releases, must undergo an internal review process within the political party to identify and rectify any instances of ableist language, it said.
“All political parties should ensure and should declare on their website that they will use disability and gender sensitive language and etiquette as well as respect inherent human equality, equity dignity and autonomy,” the poll panel advised.
It also asked political parties to use rights-based terminologies as mentioned in the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities and not incline towards any other terminology.
“All political parties shall make their public speeches/ campaigns/ activities/ events accessible for all citizens,” it said while asking them to make their website and social media content digitally accessible to allow accessible interaction with persons with disabilities.
The poll watchdog also suggested parties to provide a training module on disability for party workers at all levels of political process and appoint nodal authority to hear complaints from PwDs pertaining to usage of ableist language.
It appealed to the political parties and their candidates to abide by the guidelines in letter and spirit.
CEC Kumar had also said that the EC is committed to mainstream and deeply embed the concept and practice of accessibility in all its processes and functioning.
Disability is not at all inability, he had asserted. The real disability is perhaps our own inability to see the inner ability of the specially abled individuals, he had felt.
The challenge is not the disability but developing the right attitude towards it, ability of the system to be sensitised to needs of all.



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