Open Letter to the attention of Vice-President Neelie Kroes
Accessibility of 112 emergency services in Europe
In 2011 the European Union of the Deaf (EUD) led a Written Declaration campaign on the accessibility of 112 emergency services across Europe. It was put forward jointly by five different MEPs and proved highly successful, yielding 483 signatures, a record number for the 2009-2014 European Parliament. However – thus far – a formal response from the European Commission on the proposed course of action has failed to reach the Deaf Community
EUD is a not-for-profit European NGO comprising National Associations of the Deaf and has members in all 27 EU Member States, as well as Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland. It represents the over 800,000 Deaf sign language users in the EU and aims to achieve equality in public and private life through the recognition of the right to use a sign language, leading to empowerment through communication and information, and equality in education and employment. It is funded through the Commission’s PROGRESS programme and a full member of the European Disability Forum (EDF).
The Written Declaration 35/2011 called on the Commission to put forward legislative and standardisation proposals to make 112 services fully accessible to all citizens, including sign language users and persons who are hard of hearing or otherwise unable to use a voice-operated phone. The campaign advocated the development of fully accessible and reliable Next Generation 112 services independent from devices and networks, using the Total Conversation concept, as advanced and refined in the REACH112 project funded by the Commission until June 2012. This project was highly successful, however financial restrictions in certain Member States have since meant the abandoning of a number of accessible services.
EUD urges you today on this European 112 day to take action in this matter to ensure that every citizen has access to life-saving services, not only for themselves but also to assist others when needed. My team and I would be happy to discuss further possible steps with you in person or at an open interview with a sign language interpreter to make sure your message reaches the European Deaf Community directly.
Download the open letter in the PDF version here.