Political agreement on new EU telecommunication rules with better provisions for consumers with disabilities
EUD, in collaboration with the European Disability Forum (EDF) has been advocating for better rules for consumers with disabilities, including deaf end-users, in the revision of the rules for electronic communications at EU level.
Beginning of June, the European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement on the text of the European Electronic Communication Code. This directive merges and amends different laws adopted in 2009 in the framework of the Telecoms Package. It improves the access and choice of persons with disabilities, including deaf persons, with regards to electronic communications, compared to the 2009 package.
The final text of the directive will only be published after the summer. However, we have been provided by EDF with a summary of the main provisions of importance for persons with disabilities, including deaf persons:
- Accessibility is now part of the universal services obligations with regards to affordability and availability measures. Both the mainstream equipment and the specific equipment for persons with disabilities (meaning assistive technologies), as well as the specific services to enhance equivalent access (meaning relay and total conversation services) will be considered as a universal service. Thus, Member States will need to ensure their availability and affordability.
- Accessible 112 emergency number and 116000 number for missing children: Measures around these European single numbers should maximise interoperability, avoid any pre-registration for the accessible communication, and inform everybody about the availability of the accessible services when travelling to other EU country.
- Contracts with telephone/internet operators must be accessible to persons with disabilities.
- Consultation with organisations of persons with disabilities, including an accessible consultation mechanism for all stakeholders, was agreed upon as well.
This text might still go through some usually minor changes and will need to be formally adopted by both institutions. Afterwards, it will need to be transposed into national law and implemented in each EU Member State.
We will publish the agreed upon text on our website as soon as it becomes available. Once the directive has been adopted, we publish the final text. Afterwards, we will be at the disposal of all NADs to provide advice and support with regards to national advocacy work for a strong transposition of the directive into national law.