Adopted by the Board of Directors of the European Disability Forum – Helsinki, Finland, 9-10 November 2019
Beyond the European Accessibility Act
Accessibility is far more than a technical issue. The exercise of all our rights – independent living, participation, freedom of choice and movement – depends on accessibility. This makes accessibility a profound political and human rights issue. Accessibility ensures that children with disabilities can be seen playing with all other children, that all persons with disabilities can live, work, go shopping, study and take part in leisure activities in cities, towns and rural areas. It ensures that we are present and visible everywhere.
Accessibility is essential for persons with disabilities and beneficial for everyone in our society, including for persons with temporal functional limitations, older persons, families and migrants. It therefore contributes to economic and social sustainability. The European Union has a unique opportunity to be a role model of accessibility and universal design by making all its institutions fully accessible for everyone.
Legislation is a fundamentally important step, but we need an extensive set of actions to ensure that accessibility is implemented everywhere, on an ongoing basis, as our societies progress. It is essential that every aspect of accessibility includes the meaningful involvement of persons with disabilities and our representative organisations.
- highlighting that all State Parties that have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) – including the European Union (EU) and all its Member States – are obliged to adopt appropriate legislative measures to ensure the right to accessibility;
- underlining that accessibility is a key pre-requisite for the enjoyment of basic rights by more than 100 million persons with disabilities in the EU. Rights that include inclusive education and employment, independent living and personal autonomy and freedom of movement;
- stressing that persons with disabilities can currently not exercise their rights fully and freely due to lack of accessibility;
- noting that demographic changes leading to many more older persons in the EU means many more people will benefit from accessibility;
- appreciating the contribution of the European Accessibility Act (Directive (EU) 2019/882 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on the accessibility requirements for products and services) towards advancing accessibility of (mainly digital) products and services in the Single Market, as well as other related legislation;
- nevertheless, noting that crucial aspects in relation to accessibility of transport and the built environment are not effectively addressed by the European Accessibility Act;
- appreciating the added value of European standards in contributing to a harmonised approach to accessibility across the Union;
The EDF Board demands that:
- Member States adopt an ambitious and comprehensive approach during national transposition of the Act and incorporate the built environment and transport, including physical and digital elements for urban, suburban and regional transport infrastructure and vehicles.
- Member States reduce the transition times for economic operators to provide inaccessible products and services, some of which are now unreasonably long.
- Member States assure the effective implementation of the Act, by putting in place robust and accessible monitoring, complaints, and enforcement mechanisms. They should also ensure that market surveillance and other competent authorities are independent, well financed and with an adequate number of staff, who are well trained.
- National and local authorities, as well as businesses providing services and products in relation to transport and built environment, promote and make use of the most up to date European standards to advance accessibility of those products and services, such as the expected European standard on accessibility and usability of the built environment (prEN17210). They should also adopt a universal design approach to accessibility so that progress benefits widest diversity of members of society.
- The European Union ensures that strict accessibility criteria apply to all EU funding used to build any new infrastructure.
The EDF Board calls on the EU Member States to live up to their responsibilities and transpose the Accessibility Act swiftly, going beyond the minimum requirements stated especially for the built environment and transport