On the 30th of April EUD was present at the first online meeting of the Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament. The meeting gave an overview of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on persons with disabilities. It included the participation of the EU Commissioner for Equality Ms Helena Dalli, as well as interventions from Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and members of the Board of the European Disability Forum.
The response to the COVID-19 outbreak has showcased that in times of emergency, relevant authorities may overlook their commitments under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). This has been manifested through the lack of meaningful consultation with and involvement of Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) in coordinating the containment measures, as well as an increase in discrimination and exclusion of persons with disabilities.
MEP Ádám Kósa, Co-Chair of the Disability Intergroup, opened the meeting with a positive outlook on the opportunities that the COVID-19 creates. He underlined the key role of technological development and digital accessibility during the pandemic. He also highlighted that all EU Member States currently provide essential information in national sign languages, which will lead to a greater acceptance of sign languages in the EU.
Ms Helena Dalli, EU Commissioner for Equality, emphasised that the COVID-19 outbreak has put to test the EU’s implementation of the UN CRPD. She underlined the need for the EU and its Member States to continue to respect their commitments under the UN CRPD, especially regarding the right to health without discrimination on the basis of disability. She gave an overview of current EU health policy measures and stressed that sign language interpretation should become available in close consultation with OPDs.
The EDF Board and MEPs chairing the Disability Intergroup gave a comprehensive overview of the disproportionate effect of the COVID-19 on persons with disabilities. Common points include lack of access to healthcare, an increase of domestic violence against women and girls with disabilities,
lack of accessible information, and the lack of alternatives to the closure of support services. MEP José Gusmão followed up with a list of proposed actions to be taken by the Disability Intergroup.
The importance to provide accessible information in national sign languages about the COVID-19 outbreak and its containment measures was highlighted as of primary importance in the meeting. EUD would like to underline the new section in our website with information about accessibility of information in national sign languages about the COVID-19 containment measures in all EU Member States.
EUD deeply appreciates the work of the Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament to work towards the equality of deaf persons in the EU. EUD will continue to work closely with the MEPs to ensure that the rights of deaf people and the implementation of the UN CRPD are fully respected by the work of the European Parliament.