On the 6 and 7 October, the conference ‘The European Accessibility Act – Making full accessibility reality’ brought together over 100 participants in Estonia to discuss the content of the European Accessibility Act (EAA) and what it means in practice for people in Europe.
The EAA is a proposal for an EU law, aiming at making specific products and services across the EU accessible for all.
The event, hosted by the Estonian Chamber of Disabled People, as part of the Estonian Presidency of the European Union (EU) took place just a few weeks after the European Parliament’s crucial vote on the EAA.
People with disabilities from across Europe, including representative’s of the European Disability Forum, and from various parts of Estonia from various local communities in, representatives of the Estonian government, EU policy makers and the industry explained why accessibility is important to them and what they need the most in their local communities. They also shared best practices concerning accessibility in their daily lives and they identified the biggest obstacles in making local communities more accessible to all people.
During the discussions, it was highlighted that accessibility is a precondition to be able to participate in society and enjoy other fundamental rights, such as the right to work, the right to education etc. However, barriers to accessibility persist in all European countries; this is why a strong Accessibility Act is needed.
Helena Pall from Estonia’s Permanent Representation to EU, currently holding the Presidency of the Council, stated: “We are aiming to finalise the Council’s position on the Accessibility Act by the end of our presidency”. She also underlined that accessibility is a question of will and awareness and not so much about cost, concluding: “Setting accessibility requirements is a win-win situation for all. Having a Universal Design makes life easier for everyone”.