Independent MEP Marian Harkin who is Vice President of the European Parliament Disability Rights Intergroup, has welcomed today’s proposals from the European Commission on binding EU legislation to ensure accessibility for persons with a disability to a range of services from ATM's to travel bookings, from audio-visual services to eBooks and from banking services to ticketing machines.
Welcoming the announcement on the eve of the UN International Day of Persons with Disability, she said:- “Today EU Commissioner, Marianne Thyssen has come forward with a proposal to make products and services more accessible to disabled people. This proposal will set common accessibility requirements that will help ensure greater participation in the digital society, especially for the 80 million people in the EU that are affected by a disability.
"Given the fact that we are living longer, that figure of 80 million is expected to rise to 120 million by 2020, which will be approximately one quarter of the entire EU population. It is therefore crucial that we now start the process of creating an inclusive and accessible European Union as soon as possible.
"Already we have EU legislation on disability access to public buildings, and to a more limited degree, access to public transport. We also have in place certain provisions in regard to airports and airlines and recently we agreed a proposal on the accessibility of public websites.
"The types of improvements that can be expected from today's proposal are quite detailed and include alternatives to speech for communication, flexible magnification and adequate font size, alternatives to fine motor control, information available in text format and non-text format and operational mechanisms that facilitate limited reach and strength.
"As Vice President of the Disability Rights Intergroup and lead for my political group ALDE on the anti-discrimination directive, I will be fully involved in strengthening this legislation and working to ensure its full implementation at EU level. Today is another important step along the long road to a fully accessible society. We still have a way to go but these proposals will make a real difference", Marian Harkin concluded.