Tackling the complex proposal for the European Accessibility Act was the ambitious task of the 3 panels of experts during an event held at the European Parliament this week. The event was co-organised by EDF and the Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament and hosted by MEP Olga Sehnalová.
A range of experts presented their views on the Accessibility Act with each of the 3 panels focusing on a different aspect: accessibility of ICT products and services, accessibility of transport and built environment and how the Act should be put into practice.
The Disability Intergroup was represented by its co-chairs: Ádám Kósa, Helga Stevens, Kostadinka Kuneva and its vice-chair, Olga Sehnalová. They all expressed their support on the adoption of a meaningful Accessibility Act that will benefit not only 80 million persons with disabilities and 150 million older people who live in Europe but all citizens. It was also highlighted that the involvement of EDF and its national members is very important in this process.
The newly appointed rapporteur of the Act in the IMCO committee, Morten Løkkegaard, was also present at the meeting stating he was there mostly to listen rather than to present a defined position, since he took over this file only very recently. He expressed his determination to get the proposal of the Act moving forward on time but also wondered whether the scope of the proposal is precise enough. He also reflected on the issue of maintaining balance and ensuring that innovation was not hampered.
EDF Director, Catherine Naughton, emphasised that accessibility is a fundamental right enshrined in the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), but it also has an enormous economic potential: “Accessibility is a pre-condition to enjoy other fundamental rights, such as access to the workplace, education, public services, free movement, leisure, etc. that persons with disabilities should enjoy on equal basis with others. On the other hand, by harmonising a set of accessibility requirements for products and services for the EU, we will create economies of scale and more know-how inside public and private organisations to take into account 80 million persons with disabilities and many more millions that will benefit from having more accessible products and services”.
Cover Picture: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Source: European Disability Forum