Sunday 3 December is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, as proclaimed by the UN General Assembly back in 1992. It is thus the ideal moment to look at some of the work undertaken by the EU to help people who live with disability of one sort or another.
Over 70 million people in the EU live with some kind of disability (a long-standing physical or mental condition limiting their movements, senses or activities). People with disabilities often face barriers that prevent them from participating in society on an equal basis with others.
The EU promotes the inclusion and participation of people with disabilities through its policies, actions and laws. A key tool is the European disability strategy 2010-2020 and its areas for action: make products and services accessible (by eliminating obstacles that pose problems for disabled people in using them); ensure that people with disabilities can participate fully in public life; combat discrimination due to disability; improve the employment situation of disabled people; boost inclusive education and lifelong learning for young people with a disability; and fight the risk of poverty and social exclusion among the disabled.
And the tangible results? The Youth Guarantee supports employment of all young people, including those with a disability. In the European Pillar of Social Rights, the EU commits to 20 principles for fair labour markets and welfare systems, such as the right of people with disabilities to income support. The European Accessibility Act currently being discussed by the legislators proposes to make a range of products and services more accessible, from e-books and smartphones to banking and passenger transport services. With the EU disability card, already launched in eight countries, disabled people travelling in the EU can more easily access culture, sport and leisure – and enjoy a number of perks.
For more information, please see the European Commission’s website on Persons with disabilities.