European Commission’s thematic consultations on the post-2020 European Disability Strategy
8 December 2020
On the 25th of September, the newspaper POLITICO.EU interviewed Mark Wheatley, EUD Executive Director, on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the rights of deaf persons in Europe.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the response to it by governments created situations of infringement of the rights of deaf persons: inaccessible information, lack of access to communication in hospitals, and further isolation, among other issues of concern.
In the interview, Mark recognised that the COVID-19 pandemic has been an opportunity to raise awareness about accessibility and national sign languages in the EU. However, he underlined that new barriers have arisen to access essential goods and services.
For instance, Mark mentioned that new barriers have arisen to access to communication in healthcare facilities, as many sign language interpreters were not allowed to accompany deaf persons due to COVID-19 containment measures. He also underlined that many deaf children, especially those with hearing parents that do not use a sign language, have been deprived of the sign language environment when following distance education. Mark also mentioned that many deaf persons have already lost their jobs due to COVID-19 crisis, with uncertainty about the opportunities that they will be able to find in the future.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, EUD will continue working with different stakeholders to showcase the additional barriers that many deaf persons faced and continue to face in an effort to ensure compliance with the rights of deaf persons, especially in relation to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).
EUD would like to thank POLITICO.EU for suggesting this interview.
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