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EUD Policy Recommendations – Access to labour market for deaf persons in the EU

EUD

Access to work and employment is a fundamentally important right. The empowerment through employment, self-employment or entrepreneurship is essential to the well-being of deaf persons and their full and active participation in societies and the economy. However, participation of persons with disabilities in employment remains low.  
 
In the EU, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), especially its Article 27, the European Pillar of Social Rights, the European Disability Strategy 2021 – 2030 and the Employment Equality Directive are key instruments that safeguard the right to work, and the employment of persons with disabilities at the EU level. However, legislation and principles must be meaningfully implemented and enforced at national level to ensure that this right is protected and fulfilled, and deaf persons can fully exercise it and participate in the labour market on an equal basis with others.  
 
To understand how well the right to work and employment is realised in the EU for deaf persons and which barriers remain, in the beginning of 2022, EUD developed a survey on labour market access for deaf persons and disseminated it among its thirty-one member organisations – National Associations of the Deaf (NADs). EUD asked NADs how well the EU Member States are implementing Article 27 UN CRPD for deaf persons in their countries and what the remaining barriers are. EUD also consulted NADs about the EU level instruments such as the EU Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, EU Pillar of Social Rights, and Equality in Employment Directive in terms of their impact at national level when improving access to work and employment.  
 
Within the EUD policy recommendations, a breakdown of Article 27 UN CRPD is provided, explaining the meaning of each of its legal obligations for deaf people, including some examples of what this would look like in practice. For each legal obligation, the information collected in the survey is used as the basis for the policy recommendations that can be utilised to inform the authorities at national as well as EU level when further addressing the unemployment of persons with disabilities in the EU. Finally, an overview of the EU level policies and initiatives is given, in terms of how best they can be used to further implement the legal obligations under Article 27 UN CRPD. 
 
Although the legal obligations exist, the in-practice examples from Member States provide evidence that such obligations are not being fulfilled, as challenges remain. Accordingly, further EU guidelines, in terms of what the legal obligations mean in practice, are required for the full realisation of the rights of persons with disabilities in and seeking employment. There is no one size fits all approach but efforts to ensure that, within such guidelines, there is provision to account for individual cases, rather than over generalisation of the situation of persons with disabilities.  

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