October is spina bifida and hydrocephalus awareness month, and, led by the International Federation of Spina Bifida And Hydrocephalus (IFSBH), this year's theme is 'Accessibility for All'.
Accessibility is of paramount importance to SBH Scotland, a charity dedicated to supporting individuals whose lives are affected by disabilities.
Millions of people in Europe with disabilities are still excluded from using basic products and services that are taken for granted by others such as withdrawing money from an ATM, entering a bank, a school, a university or any public building, using the underground etc. Europe needs a strong and ambitious European Accessibility Act but currently it's under threat!
Proposed back in 2015, the European Accessibility Act (EAA) hoped to enhance the rights and reduce discrimination across Europe for those living with disabilities in all areas of life; from travel and healthcare to banking and product pricing. Since then much of the proposed Act has been under negotiation with compromises sought on issues such as the built environment, public procurement, transport or the definition of "persons with functional limitations".
Currently proposed amendments water down the Act to the extent that it becomes meaningless.
With the European Accessibility Act under threat we’d like you to join the International Federation of Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus in engaging your MEP’s, asking them to support the rights of persons with disabilities by substantially amending the Internal Market Committee of the European Parliament's (IMCO) report in the plenary in June and promote a strong and ambitious Accessibility Act.
The final plenary European Parliament vote is scheduled for mid-June so we need to take action now!
Why is the European Accessibility Act relevant to persons with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus (SBH)?
- It will enhance their right to independent living as they will be able to manage themselves further in aspects of life such as banking, e-commerce and other services.
- Thanks to increased cross border trade and mobility, persons with SBH will be able to profit from a more competitive price of products and services
- more products and services will be accessible and therefore easier to use in the areas of ICT, transport, banking and retail
- accessibility of transport (infrastructure, ticketing machines, booking processes, information etc) will be improved (if transport stays as part of the EAA), which will enhance the possibility for persons with SBH to travel.
- accessible transport and therefore increased mobility will improve the participation of persons with SBH in education, labour market and society in general
- the EAA will provide a framework for accessibility requirements which can serve as a point of reference for persons with SBH when they travel to other countries and want to use services or products there
- EAA will reduce discrimination of persons with disabilities including persons with SBH in the internal market by providing (certain) accessible products and services
What can you do?
- Spread the message on your social media channels using the hashtag: #AccessibilityAct
- Say why accessibility is important for you?
- Post pictures of inaccessible situations to illustrate what the problems are, curbs, buses, atm machines etc
- Tag in your MEPs and other government officials.
Want more information?