EIDD – Design for All Europe and EDF, the European Disability Forum, issue a joint statement on the occasion of the Global Accessibility Awareness Day, 16 May 2024.

EIDD – Design for All Europe and EDF, the European Disability Forum, issue a joint statement on the occasion of the Global Accessibility Awareness Day, 16 May 2024.

The Global Accessibility Awareness Day has taken place on the third Thursday of March every year since 2012. This year, EIDD and EDF have come together to call for more stringent legislative and design action in Europe, together with the funding to make it happen.

Towards an ambitious implementation of EU’s accessibility legislation

On the occasion of the Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), the European Disability Forum (EDF) and Design for all Europe recall that accessibility is a human right and a precondition for persons with disabilities to live independently and to fully participate in society.
Strong legislation is the most effective way to achieve this goal and build a more inclusive digital and physical world.
Ensuring the accessibility of the physical and digital world requires transnational solutions. The European Union is, therefore, in a unique position to ensure a minimum and harmonised level of accessibility. The Web Accessibility Directive, the European Electronic Communications Code, the Audiovisual Media Services Directive and the European Accessibility Act are the most relevant examples of how it can be achieved.
However, the adoption of such laws is only the starting point on the journey towards a more accessible society. Ambitious implementation measures and strong enforcement procedures are then key to ensure the laws translate to equal access for all persons with disabilities.

In this context, EDF and Design for all Europe would like to call on Member States to:

· Commit to an ambitious and timely transposition of EU Accessibility legislation by going beyond the minimum accessibility requirements, setting ambitious and clear targets and proactively engaging with the disability community and experts.

· Establish strong enforcement procedures that provide effective redress to persons with disabilities when their right to accessibility is breached. This should include enough level of powers, resources and personnel for enforcement authorities, as well as dissuasive fines for non-compliance.

· Promote accessibility and a Design for All approach in the curricula of higher education. The lack of accessibility and Design for All professionals is a significant challenge that threatens the proper implementation of accessibility requirements.

· Promote mandatory training on accessibility to public officials in charge of accessibility legislation and public procurement.

· Allocate sufficient human and financial resources to ensure accessibility in practice, including investment in accessible infrastructure and support to the public and private sectors. The European Commission:

· Closely monitor the implementation of EU Accessibility Legislation by the Member States. To do so, the European Commission must make use of all its powers, including the right to launch infringement proceedings and amend legislation, to address wrong, incomplete or divergent implementation.

· Create a new regulatory European agency for accessibility, based on and building upon the work of the AccessibleEU centre, to support the implementation of all EU harmonised accessibility legislation, and the collaboration among public authorities, the private sector, professionals and persons with disabilities.

· Mainstream accessibility in all new EU policies and legislation.

· Ensure funding for further research on accessibility and Design for All to address remaining gaps and look for innovative approaches.

European Standardisation bodies to:

· Adopt comprehensive standards that support a harmonised and ambitious implementation of the EU accessibility legal framework. Such standards should always be developed in close cooperation with organisations representing persons with disabilities.

Companies to:

· Swiftly adopt a Design for All approach that goes beyond the legally required level of accessibility in existing laws.

· Invest in accessibility competences and reach out to persons with disabilities and their representative organisations to understand the current barriers.

Accessibility is an essential precondition to the enjoyment of the human rights of persons with disabilities. On Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we call on all actors to guarantee an inclusive future for persons with disabilities in the EU by implementing and enforcing legislation that enables an accessible world.

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