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 people with hearing difficulties.
Do you, or someone close to you, suffer from hearing difficulties? Tens of millions of people are estimated to suffer from some degree of hearing loss in the EU. This figure is likely to grow due to factors like increased noise pollution. Often underestimated, and invisible, this health problem leads to difficulties in many aspects of daily life, like accessing information, communication, healthcare, education and employment.
To help you participate fully in society, despite hearing loss, the EU has introduced accessibility legislation that means people with physical restrictions do not meet obstacles when using products, services and infrastructure. The EU accessibility rules on web accessibility facilitate access to and use of public sector websites and mobile applications. The future European accessibility act will harmonise accessibility requirements, which will mean that products and services that are particularly important for everyday life, such as smartphones, cash dispensers and transport services, can be used easily by everyone, wherever they are in the EU.
Other examples of EU laws include on providing appropriate assistance for persons with hearing or speech impediments in criminal court proceedings, and a rule asking countries to encourage the media to make sure their services are accessible to people with a visual or hearing disability.
- EPRS publication on ‘Assistive technologies for people with disabilities’, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/document.html?reference=EPRS_IDA(2018)603218
- EPRS publication on ‘European disability policy: From defining disability to adopting a strategy’, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/document.html?reference=EPRS_IDA(2017)603981
- European Commission’s Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion website, http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1137