The European Union of the Deaf (EUD) recently commented the Revised Interpretative Guidelines for Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 on the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when traveling by air. These guidelines play a pivotal role in shaping accessibility standards within the European Union, and EUD’s contributions aim to ensure that the perspective of deaf people is fully included when it comes to their rights to air travel.
One of our main areas where we provided comments was about the right of deaf people to impart and receive information in their national sign language and in International Sign. Communication in our natural language is fundamental to ensuring that all deaf people can navigate airports and airline services with confidence and independence on an equal foot with their hearing counterparts.
Moreover, we highlighted the necessity for deaf people to have access to personal support at airports, particularly in instances where advance arrangements are required. The traditional methods of communication such as phone calls create further barriers to deaf people, we recommended the inclusion of free-of-charge Video Relay Service (VRS) options to facilitate seamless communication and support.
Additionally, we stressed the obligation of airport managing bodies to consult with National Associations of the Deaf when implementing measures to enhance accessibility for deaf people, aligning with the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This consultation ensures that the requirements of the deaf community are taken into account.
Furthermore, we strongly advocate for airport staff to be proficient in the national sign language or for the provision of 24/7 remote interpretation services to bridge communication gaps with deaf people.
Ultimately, our comments on the Revised Interpretative Guidelines align with our broader objectives of monitoring the implementation of EU accessibility legislation and policies and ensuring the right of deaf people to travel by air is not impeded by the lack of opportunities to communicate in our preferred languages.