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Open Letter From 20 Organisations to the EU Institutions: We Need a Strong European Accessibility Act and We Need It Now

27/09/2018 | 0 comments

European Disabiulity Forum logoThe European Disability Forum (EDF) and 19 other organisations demand that EU decision makers must deliver a strong and meaningful Act to protect the rights of people with disabilities as several Member States try to erase essential elements.

Press Release from EDF, Brussels: 27 September 2018

We, along with 19 other organisations, published an open letter today urging Member States to significantly improve the European Accessibility Act ahead of the next negotiations (2 October).

We demand that a strong European Accessibility Act is agreed upon before the next European Day of Persons with Disabilities.

The European Accessibility Act was proposed by the European Commission in 2015. It aims to add common minimum requirements on accessibility for a range of products and services. It’s meant to dramatically improve Europeans’ lives, especially the lives over 80 million persons with disabilities and 190 million people aged 50 or older.

Unfortunately, negotiators, especially Member States, are trying to erase essential elements.

  • The exclusion of public procurement and micro-enterprises will mean that the vast majority (93%) of products and services will be excluded.
  • The exclusion of emergency services means that persons with disabilities will continue to die because they cannot reach or contact emergency responders.
  • The exclusion of the built environment means that millions of products and services will still be out of reach for millions of Europeans. It will mean that the Act is meaningless.

The European Commission wants the Act adopted this year. The Austrian Presidency wants the Act adopted this year. We wanted it adopted years ago. We also want it to make a real difference. This is why 20 organisations, including the European Disability Forum, AGE Platform, and ANEC are coming together now.

Yannis Vardakastanis, President of the European Disability Forum stated “A strong Act is not a wish, it’s a need. Member States, especially 3 of them, are putting money ahead of people. They are putting lives at risk by watering the Act down. Our patience and diplomacy have limits. We know which countries are behind this. If we don’t see real change soon, the public will know too.”

He added: “The Act is not inventing new rights. All Member States already signed a UN treaty that demands accessibility[1]. The EU is just acting on it. It is small minded to dilute the Act.”
Two negotiation meetings are scheduled: on 2 October and 8 November. We hope to see significant progress in both.

Download the Open Letter from the 20 organisations in PDF format from the right-hand panel.

Note: [1]. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is an international treaty intended to protect and promote the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. It adopts a broad categorization of persons with disabilities and reaffirms that all persons with all types of disabilities must enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. States parties to the convention are required to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities. It has been ratified by 177 State Parties, so far.
Article 9 of the Convention states that “States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas.”

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General Information

Submitted by: Ivor Ambrose
Author(s): European Disability Forum
Language(s): EN


Publisher: European Disability Forum
Date published on the web: 27/09/2018


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