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New EU Disability Strategy from 2010

European Union logoEuropean Disability Strategy

At the end of 2010, the European Commission adopted a new overall plan to help break down the barriers that prevent disabled people from taking an equal part in society.

The plan says how the EU and the governments of the different EU countries can give disabled people more power so they can enjoy their rights. The plan will make a better society in Europe - and could also help Europe's economy. For example, from one country to another it may be easier to sell things (and services) that help disabled people . In the EU today the sales of support systems and devices every year is already over €30 billion.

The main actions in the strategy are:

  • Accessibility: using existing EU rules to help make goods and services accessible to disabled people and at the same time encouraging an EU market for support equipment and systems
  • Participation: making sure there are no barriers to disabled people and their families when they want to use their rights as EU citizens, for example
    • promoting sign language and Braille when voting or dealing with EU offices
    • promoting accessible of websites
    • promoting accessibility of books and other and copyrighted works
    • looking at the possibility of using the same entitlements or identity cards in different EU countries
  • Funding: ensuring that EU grants in policy areas that are relevant to disabled people are used to promote sound working conditions for people providing care (whether paid or family members) and are available to help develop personal-assistance schemes
  • More cooperation between Member States and voluntary groups (civil society): providing a way of exchanging facts and and ideas - in particular geting disabled people's rights in one country (such as the right to personal assistance) recognised when they go to another EU country. The Blue Badge scheme - Blue Badges can be used in all parts of the EU already - is an example of this sort of co-operation.
  • Awareness-raising such as through the European award for accessible cities

The strategy includes a list of definite actions and a timetable. The European Commission plans to report regularly on the what the plan has done. It will also say how well it is complying with United Nations "Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities", which it has agreed to.