European Disability Forum: request for international sign and live captioning during Eurovision Candidates Debate

9 April 2019

Letter sent to European Parliament Services:

Dear Mr. Duch Guillot,

Dear Mr. Mangold,

I write to you on behalf of the European Disability Forum, an umbrella organisation of persons with disabilities that defends the interests of over 80 million Europeans with disabilities.

We were informed by the European Broadcasting Union that the European Parliament is in charge of the logistics of the Eurovision Candidates debate, which will take place the 15 May.

This is why we address you a formal request to provide interpretation in international sign during the aforementioned debate. We also request that an eventual livestream by the European Parliament will include live captioning in English.

This request is in line with commitments taken by the European Union as one of the State Parties to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which Article 9 – Accessibility reads: “(…)States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, (…)to information and communications (…).

It will also help guarantee compliance with Article 29 - Participation in political and public life which obliges States Parties “to ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others”.

Furthermore, the provision of international sign and live captioning would fall in line with the European Parliament’s resolution on “Sign language and professional sign language interpreters” adopted in 2016. It would also fall in line with the European Parliament’s Report on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with special regard to the Concluding Observations of the UN CRPD Committee: “174. Underlines the need to facilitate the effective participation and freedom of expression of persons with disabilities at public events and meetings hosted by the institutions or held on their premises by providing captioning and sign-language interpretation(…).”

There are 80 million persons with disabilities in the EU – representing 15 % of the total population - who already face many difficulties in exercising their political rights. Therefore, the accessibility of such an important debate must never be compromised, if the EU really aims at addressing and involving all its citizens.

The European Disability Forum remains available to support the European Parliament in assuring accessibility for persons with disabilities. Kind Regards,

Catherine Naughton, Director, European Disability Forum

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