Day 2 of the Summit hosted a number of interesting panels and discussions, EUD attended an In-conversation discussion about the EU and US in comparison in terms of their technological and policy developments, as well as a panel discussion about the application of the European Accessibility Act (EAA). You can find out more about these in the article below.
In-conversation “EU – US in comparison: what are the technological and policy developments?”
Rylin Rodgers, Accessibility Policy Advisor, Microsoft and Alejandro Moledo, Head of Policy, EDF:
Day 2 of the Summit took place on 1st June 2022, where Mr Moledo opened by stating that, in terms of accessibility, EDF advocates for disability legislation but also to mainstream accessibility in other sectoral legislation and initiatives. Mr Moledo explained that the word accessibility has been seen in many ministerial declarations in the EU. However, often nothing happens as it is only a word and a political commitment. Instead, we need a robust legal framework for to turn this word into a reality. The problem is that many do not understand or know what accessibility looks like in practice. In the EU, the European Accessibility Act should be included in other important pieces of legislation. Mr Moledo called for a robust horizontal accessibility legislation which can be referred to and aligned worldwide, for a common understanding of what accessibility included in legislation looks like.
Mr Rodgers explained that, in the US, when a new administration comes into office, there are executive actions, such as diversity and equity, but this generally doesn’t mean anything significant. However, there has been a shift, as with the current administration, the executive order is on diversity, accessibility, and inclusion which is an important step in the right direction. It has also led to a government-wide plan to increase accessibility. The US is almost 32 years into the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, there is much room to still progress in terms of accessibility and there is a need additional action, legislation, and funding.
Panel Discussion – Application of the European Accessibility Act (EAA):
Sabine Lobnig, Director of Communications, Mobile Wireless Forum stated that for the topic of mobile accessibility, her company follows the EEA. Ms Lobnig explained that a big component of the EAA is about the information of the accessibility features for the end user and highlighted the importance of having information about accessibility features easily available. Accordingly, the case was made for the need for awareness raising about these features so that the end user knows which options are available in order to find the most suitable device. Mobile Wireless Forum has created a database of this type of information relating to all devices available on the market. To ensure their accessibility standards are high, they consult a stakeholder network that includes DPOs, persons with disabilities, accessibility experts, and academia.
Ligia Fonseca, Senior Manager, External Affairs Europe, International Air Transport Association (IATA), emphasised the importance of accessibility in universal design. Ms Fonesca said that it is important to ensure that all the links in the ‘chain’ are connected, making everything accessible for the user. IATA work with a number of DPOs, including EDF, to develop their policies.
Roberta Capellini, Service Design Lead, Unicredit, stressed the importance of being inclusive in this industry. Unicredit believes that everyone deserves to bank equally, therefore they are hosting a roadshow with the intention of raising awareness about accessibility in the banking sector and are involving persons with disabilities as speakers.