The annual European Day of Persons with Disabilities (EDPD) conference took place on the 28th – 29th of November 2019, in Brussels. EUD Board and staff attended the EDPD 2019, which focused on the evaluation phase of the European Disability Strategy 2010 – 2020. During the conference, participants discussed preliminary findings of the public consultation on the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020, as well as presented their expectations for the next decade.
During the second panel, EUD Executive Director, Mark Wheatley, emphasised that, if developed, the new European Disability Strategy 2020 – 2030 should demonstrate a clear commitment to fully implement the UNCRPD, the UN CRPD Committee’s Concluding Observations, the principles of the EU Pillar of Social Rights and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It was also highlighted that the new strategy, if developed, should also take into account different perspectives to accessibility (e.g. deaf perspective) and encourage actions that would ensure accessibility that goes beyond physical accessibility, especially full accessibility of information, communication and knowledge for all.
It should also aim at establishing a coordination of social security systems for economically active persons with disabilities across the EU and ensure that everyone can exercise their freedom of movement. Moreover, new strategy must highlight that digitalisation and developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence cannot leave people with disabilities behind and should be seen as means of empowerment. The new strategy should focus on digital up-skilling of people with disabilities, should take cross-cutting approach and should include perspectives of different genders, elderly, children.
During the second day of the conference, participants discussed how to achieve sports for all. Panelists agreed that sports play a crucial role for inclusion of persons with disabilities therefore more financial support for initiatives that foster participation of persons with disabilities in sports is needed. EUD President, Markku Jokinen, emphasised that Deaflympics are significantly important for the deaf community and wanted to know how the European Commission could support it.
Lastly, the access city award 2020 ceremony was the occasion for the European Commission to unveil the name of the award’s 10th winner. This year, 47 cities sent their applications and Warsaw in Poland was awarded a first place.