In February 2017, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) interviewed disability rights advocate Sekou Nyue about barriers that persons with disabilities encounter in Liberia. The transcript begins below.
Sekou: My name is Sekou Nyue, President, Liberia United Rural Association of the Disabled, a disabled organization based in a rural county called Loufa, the exact location where we have our central office, Manachita.
Interviewer: What barriers have you experienced while voting or participating in political life?
Sekou: Ah, well, first of all, I want to let you know that the voting process for Liberia, here, the disabled community has always been left out, all of the time. We only got on board through the means of IFES, who came here in 2005 election and brought us over – today you can see some of us speaking, we can say thank god for us, but it is IFES that opened our eye. Because of our condition, it isn’t easy, but we have been advocating just for our own path, yes.
Interviewer: How has civic or voter education played a role in reducing barriers to electoral access?
Sekou: Well, one of our big dream for IFES to carry civic and voter education. We’re going to various villages and towns to talk to our brothers and sisters who are falling in this category if they’re reluctant to come out and register, but through our advocacy--yes, thank god--they are coming, they are responding to voter registration.
Interviewer: If you could make one change to increase inclusion of people with disabilities in political life--in voting, in running for office—what would it be?
Sekou: What would be a change, it would be like if you want total involvement in elections, if you have various instruments that make, especially visually impaired, the Deaf, to adequately be prepared is to bring, for example, bring the tactile ballot system for the visually impaired, that is, the blind people can vote independently. Then the sign language help to interpret for the Deaf people – it would make the election successful. Then, at the various centers, you make it accessible by way of building ramps for the various disabled polling centers. Then you make it more…easier for the disabled community to be part, mobile, yes.