European Disability Day on December 3rd is an opportunity for us to reflect on the violations of rights that many people with disabilities continue to face.
High rates of unemployment or poverty are common across Europe.
Measures to fight the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted many security gaps. The vulnerability of national health systems and the existing support for people with disabilities.
COVID-19 measures affected many people with disabilities. They lost access to personal assistance due to limitations in in-home services. Access to health care was also difficult. And the rules of physical distancing left many in isolation as they could not receive visitors.
We already have the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The EU and all of its Member States are parties to the Convention. You must therefore comply with the commitments you have made.
It turns out to be an essential driver for change. A 2015 FRA paper underlined that it is a catalyst for far-reaching legal and policy changes across the EU.
It led to national disability action plans and strategies.
It has also led some member states to change their laws and policies to ensure that people with disabilities have more autonomy and control over their own lives.
At the European level, we also have the European Accessibility Act, the Internet Accessibility Directive. And next year the new European Disability Strategy 2020-2030 should be announced.
This strategy should not only cover all provisions of the Convention. It should also mainstream the rights of people with disabilities in all relevant areas of EU law, policies and programs.
There are encouraging signs. The European Commission involves organizations of people with disabilities in shaping the new strategy. This ensures that issues that are really important to them are high on the EU’s agenda. This should continue with the introduction of the implementation.
The future will require significant changes. For example, change our infrastructure to ensure full access to buildings, transportation and digital services. But also change the way we think and act to take into account the perspectives of people with disabilities.
Only then can the strategy deliver on the promise of a fresh start for people with disabilities. It should enable them to have the theoretical and practical right to be full and active members of our society.
Comments are closed.