New App will facilitate persons with disability to take part in elections actively, to learn about facilities available to them and how to influence policy and planning
ISLAMABAD – On International Day of Persons with Disability, first-ever Android App has been launched in Pakistan on Thursday to connect persons with disability (PWD) and their families with rights information that can bridge them to key stakeholders from where they can claim their rights and access to different government entitlements.
Disability Inclusive Voter Education (DIVE) has been developed by STEP (Special Talent Exchange Program), with the support of International Foundation of Electoral System (IFES), during the project on ‘Inclusion of Persons with disabilities in Political and Democratic Process’ is implemented in Pakistan under sub-grant agreement with IFES (International Foundation for Electoral Systems).
Around 10 per cent of Pakistan’s population suffers from one or the other form of disability and remain confined to their houses mainly because of the lack of information about the facilities available for them. “This application will contribute in removing this communication gap,” STEP Executive Director Muhammad Atif Sheikh.
The new mobile app can help bridge the divide to some extent.
DIVE will provide information and guidance to users to learn how to take part in elections actively, how to influence policy and planning in the favor of PWDs and will facilitate them to utilize opportunities and services available to them in their respective districts. Through this first-ever Android mobile application for PWDs, information regarding the facilities available in both public and private sector such as lists of education and rehabilitation centres, employment opportunities, laws, guidelines for CNIC registration, will become accessible for every disabled citizen of the country.
The application was unveiled in a policy dialogue on ‘Towards a disability — inclusive post 2015 development framework Pakistan perspective’ organized by the Ministry of Human Rights, Special Talent Exchange Programme (STEP), National Commission on the Status of Women, Sight Savers, United States Embassy, National Forum for Women with Disability and Aurat Foundation.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Human Rights Ashtar Ausaf, the chief guest on the occasion, stressed on collaborative effort to empower PWDs.
“If a person is disabled, it is actually the disability of society to understand and accommodate that person,” he said adding that the issue is not only that of accessibility of infrastructure but also of the accessibility of our minds. He also mentioned that the issue of PWDs should not be included in the human rights ministry but should be part of all policy initiatives of the government.
International Foundation for Electoral System Country Director Ole Holtved said that STEP and ISEF are developing information resources for PWDs, opinion-makers and public at large such as through Android applications, material made available of the PakVoter website and social media platforms and in direct interaction with decision makers and disabled persons and organizations. “We intend to continue these efforts and hope to continue them as we move forward to the next general elections in 2018 and beyond,” he said.
National Forum for Women with Disabilities Chief Executive Officer Abia Akram stressed for the need of making sustainable plans for the empowerment of persons with disability, especially women.
While talking about inclusive political participation, senior journalist Syed Sardar Peerzada said persons with disability remain unaware of the political situation mainly because Pakistani media is also not disability friendly.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Human Rights Barrister Zafarullah Khan disagreed with the term disability. He encouraged PWDs to be part of mainstream society and take inspiration from the persons with disability, who made their name in the history despite their shortcomings.