On the 15th of September, Mark Wheatley, EUD’s Executive Director, presented at the webinar organised by the European Network of Independent Living (ENIL) titled ‘How can we ensure Independent Living for all? – Catering for people with diverse impairments’. The webinar included a wide variety of presenters in representation of different disabilities at the national and the EU levels.
Independent living, as established by Article 29 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), lays down the legal obligation for States Parties to ensure the full inclusion and participation in the community of all persons with disabilities. In his presentation, Mark Wheatley emphasised on the importance of accessibility to employment, education and decision-making for deaf persons. He reminded of the continuous exclusion of deaf persons from access to information.
Mr Wheatley also made reference to the effects of the COVID-19 on deaf persons in Europe, highlighting that access to relevant information in relation to the pandemic continues to be insufficient. He also expressed the concern of the European deaf community about the measures in many European countries to wear masks, which poses an important barrier in communication for deaf persons. Mark also underlined the barriers to communication in hospitals when trying to access healthcare services.
The need to provide accessible information and communication during the pandemic has become even more obvious, yet many European countries fall short of their obligations under the UN CRPD in relation to accessibility. EUD highlights its new section on its website with information about accessibility of information in national sign languages about the COVID-19 containment measures in all the EU Member States. Likewise, EUD underlines the importance of its Report on EUD consultative virtual regional meetings with the National Associations of the Deaf in Europe, to understand the effects of the pandemic on deaf persons in different European countries.
EUD deeply appreciates the work of all the Organisations of Persons with Disabilities present at the webinar and recalls the importance of a strong and united disability movement to advance the rights of all. EUD will continue to work closely with relevant partners to ensure that the rights of deaf people and the implementation of the UN CRPD are fully implemented both at the national and the EU levels.
EUD would like to thank ENIL for the organisation of the webinar, and for suggesting Mark Wheatley as a presenter.