Article 29 – Participation in political and public life - Article 29

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Convention Text

1.1 States Parties shall guarantee to persons with disabilities political rights and the opportunity to enjoy them on an equal basis with others, and shall undertake to:

(a) Ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others, directly or through freely chosen representatives, including the right and opportunity for persons with disabilities to vote and be elected, inter alia, by:

(i) Ensuring that voting procedures, facilities and materials are appropriate, accessible and easy to understand and use;

(ii) Protecting the right of persons with disabilities to vote by secret ballot in elections and public referendums without intimidation, and to stand for elections, to effectively hold office and perform all public functions at all levels of government, facilitating the use of assistive and new technologies where appropriate;

(iii) Guaranteeing the free expression of the will of persons with disabilities as electors and to this end, where necessary, at their request, allowing assistance in voting by a person of their own choice; R1

(b) Promote actively an environment in which persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in the conduct of public affairs, without discrimination and on an equal basis with others, and encourage their participation in public affairs, including:

(i) Participation in non-governmental organisations and associations concerned with the public and political life of the country, and in the activities and administration of political parties;

(ii) Forming and joining organisations of persons with disabilities to represent persons with disabilities at international, national, regional and local levels. R2

Declaration of Needs and Characteristics

2.1 Blind and partially-sighted people expect to be able to exercise their political rights on an equal basis with other citizens. At present, most governments do not provide facilities that enable blind and partially-sighted people to vote in secret in public elections and referenda.

2.2 It is very unusual for party manifestos and published election candidates' handouts to be available in accessible formats at the same time as the publication of printed versions.

2.3 Polling stations frequently do not have the materials and resources that are required to enable blind and partially-sighted people to vote independently in secret in the certainty that they select the candidate(s) of their choice.

2.4 Polling stations, electronic voting machines and other facilities that are provided to enable citizens to cast their votes in elections or referenda are not usually accessible to blind and partially-sighted people.

2.5 Polling station officials rarely receive the training they need to give blind and partially-sighted people the assistance they require to cast their votes or to be guided around the polling station.

2.6 Blind and partially-sighted people often require personal assistance from a person they trust to help them to vote either at polling stations or by post.

2.7 Blind and partially-sighted people expect to be able to participate in local, regional, national and international political activities. This requires:

 The provision of political information such as official documents, newspapers and political parties' published literature in accessible formats;
 all political events to be held in environments that are accessible to blind and partially-sighted people;
 blind and partially-sighted people expect to be able to stand in local, regional, national and international elections under the same conditions as all other candidates.

2.8 To enable blind and partially-sighted people to function effectively as politicians, to hold public office or to hold positions as officers in political parties, organisations representing the interests of disabled people or other non-governmental organisations serving the public interest, they must be provided with the special equipment, personal assistance and other resources necessary to overcome the information and communication barriers arising from visual disability.

Important Aspects of Convention Text

3.1 Convention text - R1 (a) Ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others, directly or through freely chosen representatives, including the right and opportunity for persons with disabilities to vote and be elected, inter alia, by:
(i) Ensuring that voting procedures, facilities and materials are appropriate, accessible and easy to understand and use;

(ii) Protecting the right of persons with disabilities to vote by secret ballot in elections and public referendums without intimidation, and to stand for elections, to effectively hold office and perform all public functions at all levels of government, facilitating the use of assistive and new technologies where appropriate;

(iii) Guaranteeing the free expression of the will of persons with disabilities as electors and to this end, where necessary, at their request, allowing assistance in voting by a person of their own choice.

3.2 Requirement - Blind and partially-sighted people must be able to vote in secret in all public elections and referenda. Prerequisites for this are:

- All party manifestos and published election candidates' handouts must be available in accessible formats at the same time as the publication of printed versions;

- Polling stations must be provided with the materials and resources, including, where appropriate, electronic voting machines, that are required to enable blind and partially-sighted people to vote independently in secret in the certainty that they select the candidate(s) of their choice;

- All polling stations and any other facilities that are provided to enable citizens to cast their votes in elections or referenda must be accessible to blind and partially-sighted people;

- Polling station officials must receive the training required to operate any special equipment or resources provided to enable blind and partially-sighted people to vote in secret and to be able to guide a blind or partially-sighted person safely;

- The opportunity for blind and partially-sighted people to vote either at polling stations or by post with the assistance of a person of their choice.

3.3 Convention text - R2 (b) Promote actively an environment in which persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in the conduct of public affairs, without discrimination and on an equal basis with others, and encourage their participation in public affairs, including:

(i) Participation in non-governmental organisations and associations concerned with the public and political life of the country, and in the activities and administration of political parties;

(ii) Forming and joining organisations of persons with disabilities to represent persons with disabilities at international, national, regional and local levels.

3.4 Requirement - Governments must ensure that non governmental organisations, associations and other public bodies are able to provide timely political information such as official documents, newspapers and political parties' published literature in formats accessible to blind and partially-sighted people.

3.5 Requirement - All political events must be held in environments that are accessible to blind and partially-sighted people.

3.6 Requirement - Governments must ensure the provision of equipment, resources and personal assistance that is needed for blind and partially-sighted people to function effectively as politicians, to hold public office or to hold positions as officers in political parties, organisations representing the interests of disabled people or other non-governmental organisations serving the public interest.