IFES Ukraine in cooperation with theCentral Election Commission of Ukraine and Joint IFES-CEC Administrative Center for the Training of Election Process Participants (Training Center) conducted a two-day BRIDGE modular workshop on disability rights and elections. The event was made possible with the financial support of USAID, Global Affairs Canada and the UK government.
The aim of the workshop was to provide participants with knowledge of international standards and good practices in ensuring accessibility of the electoral process.
The event gathered 24 participants (7 male and 17 female), including legal experts, representatives from election management bodies (EMBs), disabled persons’ organizations (DPOs) and election monitoring organizations.
This module was conducted in Kyiv, Ukraine, on November 14-15, 2016. It was held in Russian and was delivered by BRIDGE facilitators Tetyana Bibik, Evgeniy Krikopolo together with semi-accredited facilitator Alyona Sheshenya.
The workshop, which was customized for the Ukrainian experience and context, engaged participants on common myths and misconceptions about disability; international human rights agreements on the political and electoral rights of persons with disabilities; and the responsibility of electoral stakeholders to promote the engagement of all citizens in elections. It was designed to encourage greater coordination between civil society and EMB representatives in addressing the barriers that prevent the full participation of persons with disabilities.
All sessions were highly interactive and enabled participants to discuss various issues related to accessibility of the electoral process through role play, simulations, discussions and group work. Participants had the opportunity to try themselves in the role of voters and observers as well as the EMB’s representatives, which ensured participants` better understanding of barriers people with disabilities have to encounter during registration and voting.
One of the workshop sessions was dedicated to accessible design of websites. Participants were familiarized with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, and were tasked to make a checklist for reviewing the accessibility of existing websites. Another topic covered by the workshop was inclusive voter education. Participants were acquainted with the best international practices and inspiring examples of voter education. After that they were divided into groups and asked to develop their own versions of voter education. Finally, participants were given the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills for developing advocacy campaigns, aimed at simplifying the procedures of registration and voting, as well as making polling station more accessible.
Participants throughout the workshop actively engaged in all activities and responded positively to the training. After the workshop, there was a general consensus amongst the participants on the need to change society`s perception of disability, as well as to take special measures to make lives of people with disabilities easier. This requires comprehensive civic education for all citizens that would promote a broader human rights approach to understanding the existing barriers and restrictions of rights of people with disabilities.