INFONET Alliance, a member organization of the Civic Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (CALC), has published and distributed the Voter Guide for the Presidential Election of November 1, 2020 in formats that are accessible and easy to understand for people with sensory disabilities as part of the project Intervention for a Fair Society through Inclusive Elections. The publication is based on the official guide prepared and distributed by the CEC.
The translation of the guide into the sign language and subtitling in Romanian and Russian were offered by the Association of the Deaf of the Republic of Moldova and are accessible at https://youtu.be/jXTuVryUdz8.. The guide is distributed through dedicated communication channels used by people with hearing disabilities in the Republic of Moldova.
The guide was printed in Braille at the only printing house offering this service in the Republic of Moldova, which is managed by the National Information and Rehabilitation Center of the Moldovan Association of the Blind.
Voice acting for the guide (https://youtu.be/B5L9NbIa_aM) was offered by Mariana Tîbulac-Ciobanu, and the recording took place at the studio of Radiovision—a radio station for people with visual disabilities. The audio file was burned on a CD and, together with the publication in Braille, sent to all territorial organizations of the Moldovan Association of the Blind.
In terms of the participation of people with sensory disabilities in political, public, and cultural life, these publications organically fit in with the activities under Objective 5, Increase the participation of people with disabilities in political, public, and cultural life, from the National Program for the Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities (NPSIPD) for 2017 – 2022, namely “produce video, audio, and printed information about elections and election candidates in a format that is accessible and easy to understand for people with sensory (hearing, vision) and mental disabilities” (para. 2).
Civil society and especially people with special needs have always valued such initiatives because materials that are accessible and easy to understand are not just a source of information during election periods but also a model of access to information and works of culture and art that enables the social inclusion of people with disabilities.
Despite three years that have passed since the approval of the NPSIPD (GD No. 723 of September 8, 2017) and ten years since the Republic of Moldova ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, political parties and election candidates failed so far to take into account this priority and neglected the special needs of people with disabilities. We encourage them to show more understanding and respect, to give up stereotypes, prejudices, and perceptions based on pity, charity, and medical and social approaches toward people with disabilities, and to promote an equal-access and human-rights approach both within their circles and in the wider community. This is extremely important because, according to the data of the National Statistics Office as of December 2, 2019, the population of the Republic of Moldova includes 176,100 people with disabilities (6.6% of the national population), of whom 165,500 (!) have the vote.
These publications were produced as part of the project Intervention for a Fair Society through Inclusive Elections, implemented by INFONET Alliance in partnership with the Moldovan Association MOTIVAȚIE, the Association of the Deaf of the Republic of Moldova, the Bălți Legal Clinic, the Initiative Group Căușeni AID, the National Information and Rehabilitation Center of the Moldovan Association of the Blind, the radio station RADIOVISION, and the Association of the Elderly Inspirație.