First Braille EPIC issued to Padmashree, Bertha G Dkhar

Shillong Apr 9: Padmashree, Bertha G. Dkhar was issued with the first Braille elector photo identity card (EPIC) at the ‘Go Vote Shillong Talks’ programme organised as part of accessible elections on Tuesday.

“The first braille EPIC card was given to Dkhar, one of the leading disability activists as a symbolic gesture,” chief electoral officer FR Kharkongor said after the programme, which discussed issues from inclusive to ethical elections.

Dkhar who is also the headmistress of Jyoti Sroat School, a school run by the Bethany Society for visually impaired children, is best known as the inventor of the braille code in Khasi.

She will be one among the 800 visually impaired voters who are all set to cast their votes in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections on Thursday.

Also for the first time, the Election Commission is introducing special Braille ballot papers which will be made available in every polling booth to ensure inclusive elections.

“Polling officials have been trained by the Meghalaya Deaf Association to assist people with hearing disability,” Kharkongor said.

According to him, the Meghalaya Sign Bank app is also a first of its kind having 114 election terms in the form of short video clips to help polling officials understand the requirements of persons with such disabilities.

Meghalaya has a total of 4,686 voters who are persons with disabilities.