European Disability Action Plan Targets Improved Access to Goods and Services
10/12/2007 | 0 comments
In its updated European Disability Action Plan 2008-2009, published on 26 November 2007, the European Commission notes the formation of ENAT as a targetted action to improve accessibility to tourism for people with disabilities. The EC also makes proposals to improve access to goods and services by developing statistical services for monitoring accessibility and encouraging new standards.
The Action Plan points out that European Cohesion Policy plays an important role in supporting the employment and social inclusion of disabled persons, as well as accessibility, through the operational programmes prepared and implemented by Member States, regions and the wider partnerships in cooperation with the Commission. These activities are funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and European Social Fund (ESF).The General Regulation for the 2007-2013 funding period provides that
"accessibility for disabled persons shall be one of the criteria to be observed in defining operations co-financed by the Funds and to be taken into account during the various stages of implementation".
Access to Goods and Services
The Commission's Communication highlights that it has supported several pilot projects and research on accessibility to the built environment during 2006 - 2007. The results include a guide for public administration to consider accessibility in public tendering for buildings, training materials on accessibility for professionals, and the creation of a European network on accessible tourism.
In a section on "Boosting accessibility of goods, services and infrastructures", the action plan declares: "Greater access to mainstream goods, services, and infrastructures empowers disabled people to act as consumers. A European accessibility market requires clear rules for the sectors concerned. Actors involved in design, development and manufacturing in the various sectors need adequate competences in accessibility. Instruments to deliver accessibility should be tailored to the individual development cycles of these sectors".
Legislation and standards, protection of fundamental rights
The communication continues: "The Commission is developing legislative frameworks on accessibility in the areas of transport and ICT. Building on recent European legislation concerning air transport and in the Regulation on international rail sector on the rights of disabled people and people with reduced mobility, the Commission plans to propose legislation in the areas of maritime transport and bus and coach transport". The Commission's action plan also points to new actions to support standards for the built environment and infrastructure.
Of special interest are the EC's plans to assist member states and regions in implementing the UN convention on the rights of disabled people. Plans include a policy review and new annual meetings of European disability ministers to strengthen the European disability strategy.
The Disability Action Plan 2008-2009 lists no fewer than eleven annexes, contained in one additional document, which describe the achievements of the previous action plan and aspects of the new plan.
Download the Communication, COM(2007) 738 final, 26.11.2007 and the Annexes in PDF format from the right-hand panel.