On 23rd May 2023, EUD attended the “5th European Parliament of People with Disabilities” (EPPD) held by the European Parliament and the European Disability Forum (EDF) at the European Parliament Hemicycle. The event was opened by the European Parliament President – Ms Roberta Metsola – and it lasted all day with several speakers across different thematic sessions.
The event was attended by more than 600 advocates from across the EU that joined together to discuss what still needs to be done by the European Union to advance Disability Rights. On this occasion, EDF also presented the “Manifesto on the 2024 European Elections” which introduces the roadmap of the European Disability Forum’s campaign for next year’s scrutiny. Among the points presented within the Manifesto, the movement demanded particular attention to topics such as the right to vote, accessibility measures – including on the EU’s need to recognise its 31 national sign languages at EU level, and informed vote. In view of the 2024 EU election, voters with disabilities must be able to comprehend all elements of the electoral process and parties’ manifestos, as well as to use accessible measures to cast a secret vote.
The EPPD was divided in three main sessions with different topics: “Breaking Barriers: Free Movement and Full Participation”; “Fighting for our rights: Combating inequality, social exclusion and poverty”; and “Disability – inclusive resilience”. During these sessions, speakers discussed the growing problem of poverty, social exclusion, cost of living, independent living, inclusion in education and labour market.
Within the roundtable interventions from organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs), EUD Vice-President, Ms Ronit Laquerrière-Leven, highlighted to the participants that deaf people face several barriers when exercising their right to freedom of movement. Ms Laquerrière-Leven stressed that the main cause of this is due to the lack of information in national sign languages and the consequential limitation to communicate through them. As is addressed in the EUD position paper on the importance of recognizing national sign languages to the EU level, Ms Laquerrière-Leven recalled that this is caused by the EU’s lack of recognition of national sign languages as full languages at the EU level.
EUD called the European Parliament and other represented institutions at the EPPD to recognise and promote all national sign languages at the EU level, on an equal footing with EU spoken languages. Moreover, EUD also called for a strong regulation on the European Disability Card that considers deaf people’s communication barriers.
In this regard, EUD is committed to supporting and advocating together with all stakeholders and institutions present at the European Parliament of Persons with Disabilities. EUD looks forward to participating in the next European Parliament of People with Disabilities and to continuing the mainstreaming of deaf people’s human rights in all policies and developments at EU level and beyond.