‘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:
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”
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.
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”.
Know your Rights report QR code being scanned
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.
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.
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
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
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.’
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.