On September 6th, the European Commission officially presented its proposal for a Directive establishing a European Disability Card. This important initiative represents an opportunity to address the barriers faced by the European deaf community in realising their fundamental right to the freedom of movement within the EU.
The European Union of the Deaf (EUD), in cooperation with the European Disability movement, has advocated for a strong European Disability Card. Among its requests that were included in the proposal for a directive, EUD asked for:
The mutual recognition of disability status across EU Member States;
- Access to services and facilities that otherwise would only be guaranteed to country nationals, thanks to the mutual recognition of the disability status;
- Promotion of freedom of movement;
- Binding legislation for all EU Country Members through the implementation of a Directive;
- Complementary aspects to the already existing national disability cards.
However, not all EUD’s demands, resulting from specific requests made by our members, the National Associations of the Deaf, have been included in the proposal. For this reason, EUD is now working closely with several Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and the Council of the European Union to amend the proposal for a directive to best reflect the position of the European deaf community. Among these additional requirements, the proposal for a directive must:
- Include all areas of society that are not covered by social security, including transport, education in the framework of EU Mobility Programmes, facilitate employment in the transition phase to access the national disability benefit system when moving abroad, and health, by ensuring the provision of accessibility and reasonable accommodation measures;
- Ensure that people have a choice to disclose or not their disability on the Card,. This measure is of particular importance for the deaf community as it will help to facilitate communication about their disability and the corresponding accessibility and reasonable accommodation measures required;
- Create an online platform to accompany the card that is accessible in the national sign languages;
- Ensure that the Directive has a provision foreseeing the obligation for EU Member States to develop and run training programmes to facilitate information sharing and awareness-raising on the types of accessibility and reasonable accommodation measures required for deaf people;
- Ensure that the Directive is accompanied with the obligation for common European guidelines to be developed for service providers on how to ensure accessibility and reasonable accommodation for deaf people;
- Ensure that EU Member States’ public authorities implementing the Card provide
a) clear and easily accessible information on how to apply for the Card, and
b) all this information must be available in the national sign language(s)
- Ensure an EU Disability Card Monitoring Body is established at EU level to promote the full implementation of the Card in all Member States.