27 June 2019, Apia Samoa. The signing of the Memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Samoa Blind Persons Association (SBPA) and the Office of the Electoral Commission, formalized the translating of the Electoral Act 2019 English version into the Braille language.
This initiative marked a milestone for Inclusive voting in Samoa.
According to the OEC “this MOU is the beginning of good practices for accessibility in election process and it will allow OEC to work together more closely to help people with disabilities participate fully in Elections process”.
The translating of the Electoral Act 2019 into Braille language was long formalized in the Office of the Electoral Commission Strategic Plan 2016-2021.
All Samoan citizens should have the right to vote and participate in elections, yet in many cases, people with disabilities as well as other vulnerable groups are hindered by barriers which prevent them from exercising this fundamental rights.
These barriers range from a lack of awareness about the right to vote, to inaccessible information about elections and physical barriers at polling booths which prevent people with disabilities from voting.
The Office of the Electoral Commission in partnership with the Samoa Blind Association has overcome these barriers by publishing and printing its first translated Electoral Act 2019 into the braille language that highly encourage the good practice of Elections that are already in place in Samoa as well as to ensure greater accessibility of people with Disabilities to free fair and Inclusive elections.
The MOU was signed by the President of the Samoa Blind Persons Association Maatafa Faatino Utumapu and the OEC Commissioner Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio.