Holiday time is approaching, so you would like to travel to see your parents who live outside the city. You go to a train station, buy your ticket from a machine and get on the train. Easy, isn’t it?

Unless you are blind, because then the touch display of the ticketing machine serves you for nothing. You can’t see it and as the screen is totally flat your fingers will not be able to help you further.

Making products and services accessible for people with disabilities

Here in the EPP Group we work to find solutions to facilitate the life of millions across Europe. The European Accessibility Act (EAA) will help to make ticketing machines and check-in terminals accessible for blind people via audio features. And there is more than that! In the future not only ticketing machines or online check-in terminals must be accessible for people with disabilities. The list is a lot longer! Many many basic products and services will be produced and provided to people with disabilities on an equal basis with other people: smartphones, tablets and computers, televisions and TV programmes, banking and ATMs, E-books, online shopping websites and mobile applications must in the future be accessible as well.

A decade of devoted work for people with disabilities

Ádám Kósa, the first ever deaf Member of the European Parliament, has been working for a more inclusive and accessible Europe ever since he was elected in 2009. Since 2011, Mr Kósa has urged the European Commission to come forward with a European Accessibility Act. After almost a decade of hard and devoted work, this important piece of legislation is finally ready.

The vote on the European Accessibility Act was indeed a touching moment for me personally as well, as I have worked towards this goal ever since I was elected as the first deaf MEP in 2009
Ádám Kósa

This is a huge step forward not only for millions of people with disabilities but also for the European economy. “The vote on the European Accessibility Act for which I was a Rapporteur in the Employment and Social Affairs Committee was indeed a touching moment for me personally as well, as I have worked towards this goal ever since I was elected as the first deaf MEP in 2009. I would like to wholeheartedly thank everybody who worked on this file and I encourage them to continue their committed work with and for people with disabilities in the future as well,” Mr Kósa said.

In the future, people with disabilities will be able to contact emergency services throughout Europe via a single 112 number and will be connected to the services by a supporting voice, video or real time text communication. This will save lives, I am certain.

Mr Kósa, who has been Chairing the European Parliament’s Disability Intergroup since 2009, particularly underlined the importance of the accessible 112 emergency number, for which the European Parliament fiercely fought. “In the future people with disabilities will be able to contact emergency services throughout Europe via a single 112 number and will be connected to the services by supporting voice, video or real time text communication. This will save lives, I am certain,” he added. 

Facilitating the life of people with disabilities and promoting their social inclusion

From the point of view of Sabine Verheyen, who was the EPP Group Shadow Rapporteur of the Directive in the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, there is an urgent need for action to facilitate the life of people with disabilities. "The Directive on the Accessibility Requirements for Products and Services, like ATMs, Telco and E-commerce services, agreed upon in March, is a first and important step in the right direction to implement the requirements of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. It allows for better social inclusion and higher independence for people with disabilities," Ms Verheyen said.

The Directive allows for better social inclusion and higher independence for people with disabilities
Sabine Verheyen

"The EPP Group tried to negotiate requirements as effective and appropriate as possible. In the end, we found a good balance between the desires and needs of people with disabilities and the requirements, especially, for small and medium sized companies and municipalities. During the upcoming legislature, we have to keep an eye on the implementation into national law to assure higher independence for people with disabilities,” she added. 

What’s next?  

Now, a new chapter on the EAA begins: the implementation. The Directive now needs to be put into national law and standardised across Europe. EU countries have three years to turn most of the provisions of the EAA into national law. In parallel, the European Commission will specify the accessibility requirements and develop standards to support the implementation.

NOTE TO EDITORS

The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 216 Members from 28 Member States

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