The European Union of the Deaf (EUD) organised a highly informative and productive webinar on December 7th, 2023, titled “Achieving Deaf Rights via the EU Semester Framework.” The event aimed to shed light on the European Semester (EPSR) and its potential to enhance the implementation of human rights for deaf citizens within the European Union. The engaging discussions and insights provided by the panellists made it a significant milestone in the pursuit of equality and inclusion.
Moderated by Sofia Isari, EUD Board President, the webinar began with a concise introduction that outlined the relevance of the European Semester framework and its potential impact on the rights of deaf individuals. The importance of the European Semester as a tool to align with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the European Disability Strategy 2021-2030 was emphasised.
The keynote speaker, Monika Chaba, a Policy officer at the DG EMPL Disability and Inclusion Unit of the European Commission, elaborated on the European Semester’s role in ensuring the implementation of disability rights. She highlighted the concrete implications of this framework for persons with disabilities, with a specific focus on deaf individuals. Monika Chaba’s insights provided valuable information on how the EU Semester process can be harnessed to benefit deaf people within the EU.
Haydn Hammersley, the Social Policy Coordinator at the European Disability Forum (EDF), shared the work of EDF in conjunction with the EU Semester process. His presentation delved into the practical impact of the European Semester on the rights of persons with disabilities at both EU and national levels. Haydn also offered recommendations to organisations representing deaf individuals on how to utilise the Semester effectively to advocate for their rights at the national level.
The webinar featured Alexandre Bloxs, Policy Manager at the European Union of the Deaf, who presented EUD’s policy recommendations on employment targets for deaf people. Alexandre highlighted the barriers that deaf individuals face in accessing the employment market and presented key data and analyses from EUD’s report. He discussed actionable steps that EU Member States should take to improve the employment situation for the deaf community, including the implementation of best practices and relevant initiatives.
The Q&A session that followed allowed participants to engage directly with the panellists, seeking clarifications and additional insights on various topics related to the EU Semester framework and its implications for deaf citizens. This interactive segment encouraged meaningful dialogue and exchange of ideas.
In the closing remarks, the panellists outlined the way forward, emphasising the importance of continued collaboration and advocacy to ensure that the rights of deaf individuals are upheld and strengthened through the European Semester framework.
In conclusion, the webinar on “Achieving Deaf Rights via the EU Semester Framework” organised by the European Union of the Deaf was a resounding success. It provided a platform for in-depth discussions, valuable insights, and practical recommendations on how the European Semester can be harnessed to advance the rights and inclusion of deaf individuals within the European Union. The event underscored the commitment of EUD and its partners to empowering the deaf community and fostering a more inclusive and equitable society for all.