With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for blind and visually impaired people.
In the EU today there are more than 25 million blind and visually impaired people, i.e. with serious vision problems. Diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma or macular degeneration affect people of all ages. The number of people concerned by this invisible epidemic will grow substantially in the future, mostly because of the rapidly ageing population.
People living with vision problems that impede their ability to work, learn or participate in normal life face many challenges. Eye health issues impact individuals and their families, but also the economy and the society they are living in. To address those challenges, the EU promotes policies to avoid discrimination and build a social and inclusive environment for blind and visually impaired people.
The EU promotes access of blind and visually impaired people to education and culture – for example, the recent revision of the copyright rules means that more books can be made available in formats like Braille, large print or audiobooks. The EU also makes sure visually impaired people are protected and can widely access and use services and products in Europe. For instance, the EU has funded projects to ensure the safety of visually impaired pedestrians and requires that public service websites and mobile applications are adapted to people with vision impairments. Furthermore, the EU has proposed a wide range of products and services (e.g. ATMs, phones and smartphones, TVs, online shopping, banking services, public transport websites), which should be designed to be accessible to blind and visually impaired people.
- EPRS publication on EPRS briefing, European Accessibility Act, July 2017
- European Parliament European coalition for vision, European Parliament Elections Manifesto 2014
- European Commission, Web Accessibility