Open letter: We want accessible and inclusive European Development Days

Open letter: We want accessible and inclusive European Development Days

The annual European Development Days (EDD) organised by the European Commission in Brussels took place on the 18th and 19th of June. The aim of the conference is to bring the development community together to share ideas and experiences in ways that inspire new partnerships and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. It is one of Europe’s biggest development conferences and it includes a participatory programme with 745 exhibitions, 860 sessions and around 66 500 participants. The overarching title for this year was “Addressing inequalities: building a world which leaves no one behind”.

EDF was active throughout these two days, contributing to three sessions that took place on the first day, and other parallel meetings. You can read more about our involvement here.

For the second consecutive year, EDF and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) have provided their feedback to the European Commission and the EDD team on how to improve the accessibility and involvement of persons with disabilities. The first letter was sent on 18 June 2018, in reference to the 2018 edition, and signed by 12 organisations and representatives of the disability movement. The second official letter, signed by EDF Director Catherine Naughton and IDDC Board Member, François Carbonez, highlights the barriers encountered by persons with disabilities that prevented their full participation during the event and provided a list of recommendations for future editions.

In an effort to maintain an open dialogue, a meeting was requested to further the collaboration with all parties involved in the organisation. The main points in the letter include the need for staff to be trained on accessibility and disability, stronger signaling/signposting both inside and outside the venue, the inclusion of accessibility in the contracting process for the event, and the advantages of prior consultation with disability representatives in the preparation of the event, at a very early stage of the process.

The organisers of the EDD have confirmed the receipt of the official letter and EDF awaits a reaction to it. We will follow up on the measures adopted to ensure that the European Development Days are accessible and are inclusive of all persons with disabilities.