ENIL Position on the European Parliament’s Position on the European Accessibility Act

ENIL Position on the European Parliament’s Position on the European Accessibility Act

The adoption of the European Parliament’s position on the European Accessibility Act (EAA) on 14 September 2017 concluded the first step in the legislative process around the EAA. In the coming months, the Member States will discuss their position on the Act in the Council.

Since the publication of the European Commission’s proposal for EAA in 2015 , ENIL has emphasized the importance of a strong and comprehensive Accessibility Act, as this would support the implementation of the UNCRPD across the EU and its Member States. While the first Parliament report by the European Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO Committee) weakened the initial proposal of the Commission, ENIL is happy to see that the final position of the Parliament contains several improvements which shift the focus more towards equal access to products and services for all EU citizens. This position paper builds upon previous ENIL position papers and compares the Parliament’s position with the initial Commission proposal of 2015. The aim is to both identify areas of progress and outline suggestions, in order to avoid inconsistencies and unlock the full potential of the Accessibility Act.

ENIL would especially like to highlight the following positive improvements to the Act by the Parliament Report :

  • Scope: The most important improvement in the scope is the extension of transport services to also include urban transport, taxis and hire cars
  • Built environment: ENIL is happy to see the strong requirement to make the built environment and infrastructure related to the provision of products and service accessible
  • Penalties: It is goo to see that the Act recognizes that  penalties shall not serve as an alternative to the obligation to make products and services accessible.

At the same time we would also like to express our concerns about some of the developments which put at risk the spirit of the proposed European Accessibility Act and have the potential to undermine its legitimacy:

  • Emergency services: It is essential to keep the obligation to make telephony services including emergency services accessible.  All  EU citizens should get equal access to  the European emergency number 112. Not including this in the EAA would not only be a missed opportunity to make essential services more accessible.
  • Definition: It is regretful that the definition of universal design has been deleted in the Parliament’s position. The right to Independent Living applies to all areas of life and can only be realized if all products and services are equally accessible to all users.
  • Exemption of mircoenterprises: The EAA will not apply to microenterprises. This is problematic, because microenterprises are often the most readily available providers of products and services.

You can find ENIL’s position paper here.

2 Comments

Adrian Whyatt

November 30, 2017, 5:29 pm

Dear Frank Sioen and ENIL in general,

You are quite right in your criticisms and suggestions of improvement as far as they go, but yet again there has been no reference to universal design and the hierarchy of impairments in any of your comments and your comment form, typically, includes an example of wheelchair users (only about 5% of disabled people, but definitely far higher up than dyslexics (22+% of school pupils alone at independent schools diagnosed with this according to the then Opposition education spokesperson, David Cameron). You also have a symbol of a wheelchair user breaking their chains. Needless to say no mention of neurodivergence at all.

I’ve sent you back a modified copy of your draft comments to at least take into account some of these things (80% dark grey type, font size 20, not 12, and background to the pictures also modified to grey. Still a bit too much white at the boundaries, really, I’m afraid). Oh, and in .rtf so that it can be opened by any wordprocessor.

Yours sincerely

Adrian Whyatt, British Standards Institution (BSI) Accessibility Working Group Member, inter alia

Dilyana Deneva

December 1, 2017, 11:19 am

Dear Mr. Whyatt,

Thank you for your comments and thank you for your email with the modified document.

In the position paper we have made explicit reference to universal design on page 4.

We have not made reference to hierarchy of impairment because the hierarchy of impairment whilst being dominant in much disability discourse is not widely understood therefore we would need to explain the phenomena in detail in order to challenge it as we would not want to inadvertently perpetuate it . within the context it would lengthen the article significantly without doing the issue justice.

We have avoided making explicit references to any impairment and have used the example of wheelchair users once to illustrate the need to consider discrimination by association as discrimination by association is not considered in the current complaint mechanism of the act.

In general over the last few years ENIL has done a lot of work and training particularly through our youth network to challenge the hierarchy of impairment.

Across the organisation we are doing more and more work to highlight that independent living is for all disabled people and all impairment groups, an example of this is we will be publishing a fact sheet on independent living and those experiencing mental health conditions in the next few weeks.

Our current director as well as having a physical impairment openly identifies as having dyslexia and being neurodiverse and publicly talks about how her impairments and societies reaction to them are equally disabling.

The wheelchair symbol you refer to is not the organisation logo (that is a blue and white circle). We do use a representation of a wheelchair user breaking through chains for our Freedom Drive and this is a representation of our history as an organisation however it is not the only imagery we use.

Where possible we produce documents in word format precisely so people can adapt the formatting to their specific needs.

ENIL

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