Conference: “Equal recognition before the law must become a reality”

New York, U.S.A.,
Group photo of the International Disability Alliance, taken from the IDA facebook page

The 12th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) took place from the 10th to the 13th of June 2019 at the UN Headquarters in New York and had the theme “Ensuring inclusion of persons with disabilities in a changing world”. You can view the plenary session and all of the COSP12 events here.

‘Equal recognition before the law must become a reality. If democracy is not for all, inclusion cannot be achieved!’ were the chosen words of our president Yannis Vardakastannis at the opening of COSP12

Here is a selection of EDF’s contributions to the side events co-organised by sponsors and partners from around the world:


10 June

Civil Society Forum – Where We Stand, and What is the Current State of Play

Yannis Vardakastanis spoke at the Civil Society Forum, which seeks to amplify the voice and facilitate the adequate and active participation of persons with disabilities, where he stated “(...)during those years of the negotiation, we did imagine that CRPD was the power to change society. It changes the life of persons with disabilities, and now we need to take stock of how States are implementing it"

ICT Accessibility: The Key to Inclusive Digital Society – International Telecommunications Union and UNDESA

Alejandro Moledo summarised the side event as follows: Legislation is essential - We need Accessibility definitions, requirements, and standards, interoperability with assistive technologies, enforcement and remedy mechanisms, and training programs for ICT professionals & content creators.

Artificial Intelligence and the Potential to Increase Inclusion, Participation and Independence for People with Disabilities - Essl Foundation

Alejandro Moledo explained the need to consult people with disabilities when developing Artificial intelligence & augmented/virtual reality technologies to maximize accessibility & potential as assistive technology. He presented the recently published EDF report “Plug and Pray? A disability perspective on artificial intelligence, automated decision-making and emerging technologies”.

Person scanning the QR code on the Know Your Rights report held by Alejandro Moledo

Know your Rights report QR code being scanned


11 June

How to Make Disability Votes Count – Disability Federation Ireland

Pat Clarke explained that accessible information 'is an indispensable precondition for political participation' of people with disabilities’. He gave a shout out to Disability Federation Ireland’s Disability Votes Count campaign as well as Ireland’s accessible information on referendums, cited as examples of initiatives which support political participation. Yannis Vardakastanis, EDF President, presented EDF campaign for the EU elections, focusing on promoting the political demands on the European disability movement, and raising awareness about the need for accessible elections and the right to vote of all persons with disabilities. Besides, EDF President also explained the experience of the Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament and how EDF and its members have collaborated with them to make sure that the UN CRPD is incorporated in the EU Parliament work.

Disability and Ageing: Shaping the Agenda of Tomorrow - EASPD

Pat Clarke, EDF Vice President, reminded us that 50% of persons with disabilities are aged over 65, and most of them are women. Age impacts negatively on disability assessment and allocation of disability benefits. Deprivation of legal capacity, forced treatment, institutionalisation... UNCRPD applies regardless of age! https://twitter.com/alexmoledo/status/1138487059805593600

The Experience of the EU Disability Card – Delegation of the European Union

John Dolan, EDF Board member shared our views on the EU Disability Card, referring to it as a tangible asset of what the EU can do for persons with disabilities which must be broadened to all Member States and in its scope.

Celebrating 20 Years of the International Disability Alliance – International Disability Alliance

This event brought together past and present board members and advocates to recognise the progress that has been made to date in the advancement of the rights of persons with disabilities and was followed by a ceremony to acknowledge the contributions and the efforts made by leaders of the disability movement worldwide in setting the strong International Disability Alliance that we know today.

Leadership for Policy Change: Government, INGO and DPO Strategies for Political Inclusion’ - Permanent Mission of the United States of America , International Foundation for Electoral Systems

The main issue discussed was voting and how it could be made accessible, including the proposal from the Philippines representatives to place voter registration and polling centers in shopping malls.


12 June

Advancing Advocacy and Visibility of People with Disabilities in the Media: Experience and Innovation - Human Rights Watch

Pat Clarke stressed the importance of building long term cooperation with journalists at the side event. Other panelists discussed the polarity in disability representation and how Superhuman messaging about persons with disabilities can be harmful, and there is a need to represent real stories.

Pat Clarke at the Human Rights Watch event

Pat Clarke at the Human Rights Watch event


13 June

Technology Solutions for Engaging and Retaining Persons with Disabilities in the Workplace – Leonard Cheshire

John Dolan highlighted the necessity of personalising affordable assistive technologies, the risks of using Artificial Intelligence based tools for recruitment which reinforce discrimination against persons with disabilities.‘’. There is a need to review recruitment and human resources practices to ensure they are truly inclusive- knowledge on reasonable accommodation is also needed and often misunderstood- 58% of reasonable accommodation costs nothing.

John Dolan at the Leonard Cheshire event
John Dolan at the Leonard Cheshire event

Accessible Public Procurement: Making Sure Tax Payers Money is Spent on Accessibility’ - EDF

At our event Alejandro Moledo drew attention to the difference between theory and practice, stating ‘The challenge with public procurement is to make accessibility standards a reality. Many States do not comply with the standards... while they should put the money where their mouth is.’

Making Inclusion a Reality! - CBM

This event focused on approaches to inclusive development emphasising empowerment of organisations of persons with disabilities. A range of panelists were heard, from government, CBM and DPOs. Angeline Chnad from the Pacific Disability Forum focused on the importance of DPOs setting their own agenda, and persons with disabilities themselves being consulted in all matters that concern them. Yeni Rosa from TCI Asia, who shared stories of abuse of persons with disabilities, often left behind during humanitarian crises, and explained how people with psychosocial disabilities want inclusion in all aspects of life and urged development partners to ensure full inclusion in the community.

We would like to thank our partner Siteimprove for sponsoring our attendance to the event.

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