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IFES Launches New Training Module on Disability Rights and Elections


The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) has created the first Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) training module on disability rights and elections. The module, which uses BRIDGE’s interactive adult learning methodology, includes lessons on access of persons with disabilities throughout the electoral cycle as voters, candidates, election officials and observers. Activities in the new BRIDGE module highlight disability inclusion as a key component of credible and inclusive elections.

IFES created a BRIDGE module that focused on disability inclusion to expand the BRIDGE curricula on disability; the “Access to Elections” BRIDGE module, which included access for all marginalized communities, had been designed before the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2006. The CRPD has since been ratified by 172 member states and guarantees that persons with all types of disabilities have the right to vote, be elected, and participate in political life more broadly. The curriculum development for the new “Disability Rights and Elections” BRIDGE module was supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The “Disability Rights and Elections” BRIDGE module has been piloted by IFES with support from DFAT, USAID, UK Department for International Development and Global Affairs Canada in Bangladesh, Egypt, Fiji, Haiti, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Ukraine and Washington, D.C. Through these pilot trainings, IFES used lessons learned to refine the module’s contents and activities, building a comprehensive set of resources on the subject. Lessons in the “Disability Rights and Elections” module are designed to increase knowledge on how to conduct inclusive elections and can be targeted to different types of stakeholders, including election officials, disabled persons’ organizations (DPOs), election observation groups and media. Utilizing BRIDGE’s interactive learning format, the “Disability Rights and Elections” module engages participants on issues such a reasonable accommodation in elections, unique barriers to political participation encountered by women with disabilities and legal rights of persons with different types of disabilities.

The BRIDGE Project has focused on capacitating elections officials since its inception in 1999. Its partners include IFES, the Australian Electoral Commission, the United Nations Development Programme, and International IDEA.

What are participants saying?

“Until today, I had never realized how difficult it is for a voter with a visual disability to cast a vote at a polling station in Nepal!” – Training participant, Election Commission of Nepal

“Recently we launched our elections website. After today’s training, I realized that there was no facility for visually disabled persons to access this site. Since I am in the IT department, I will look into putting features in the site such as regulations in audio format.”  Anita David, IT and Electoral Rolls Manager, National Elections Director’s Office, Federated States of Micronesia

“The training opened my eyes and made me see that there are still many things that the election commission has not been doing or paying attention to concerning access for people with disabilities.” – Ridwan Hadi, SH, Chairman, Aceh Independent Election Commission, Indonesia

Check out the photo gallery with images from around the world of the pilot trainings of the "Disability Rights and Elections" BRIDGE module.

IFES Launches New Training Module on Disability Rights and Elections