To mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December), the European Disability Forum (EDF) co-organised a conference with the European Commission on November 28-29 to discuss the outcomes European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 of and the future of the EU disability policy beyond 2020.
The conference closed with the 10th edition of the Access City Award handed by Commissioner for Employment and Social Affaires Marianne Thyssen on her last day in Cabinet. Important accessibility accommodation for autistic people and others, such as interaction badges, a quiet room, and clear sign posting were provided.
The European Day of Persons with Disabilities (EDPD) conference, held on the 28-29 November 2019, was an occasion to call for effective mainstreaming of disability issues and to raise awareness of the everyday challenges faced by persons with disabilities. During the first day, over 300 participants discussed the preliminary findings of the public consultation of the European Disability Strategy 2010- 2020, as well as the delegates’ expectations for the next decade. Autism-Europe had a diverse delegation of members at the event, including self-advocates and family members from diverse countries to advance the rights of autistic people.
The second day, a panel was devoted to making sport accessible to all. Different examples of best practices regarding accessibility were showcased. One of the highlight was the presentation of Autism-Europe’s vice president Pietro Cirrincione about the Romulea Autistic Football Club, an inclusive football team that welcomes players who are autistic and neurotypical that aims at becoming the first inclusive team competing in the Italian official mainstream championship.
Regarding people on the autism spectrum and with intellectual disabilities, Antoaneta Angelova- Krasteva, Director for Innovation, International Cooperation and Sport, DG AEC, of the EU Commission presented the project « Ginástica com Todos » of the Associação de Ginástica do Algarve (Portugal), ran by volunteers with the support of the Portuguese Gymnastics Federation which is promoting the participation of people on the autism spectrum and other disabilities in gymnastics. The initiative was awarded with the #BeInclusive EU Sport Awards, held on November 21 2019.
10 years of the Access City Awards
An important moment of the conference was the Ceremony of the Access City Award on the second day. This is the European prize that rewards cities for their efforts in becoming accessible to all. The awards were given to the representatives of the winning cities by the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen in its last day in office, who commented:
“Accessibility is what Europe is all about. Barriers between countries, barriers between people, and barriers to social inclusion must be breaking. I am confident that my successors Helena Dalli and Nicolas Schmit will be full committed to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the next European Commission”.
The winner of 2020 Access City Award was Warsaw (Poland) for making a substantial overall improvement to the city’s ease of access in a short space of time by involving people with disabilities and accessibility needs. The 2nd prize went to Castelló de la Plana (Spain) and the 3rd prize to Skellefteå (Sweden).
Chania in Greece, Tartu in Estonia and Evreux in France all received a special mention. Chania was recognised for its use of technology to provide accessible parking, Tartu for its grassroots approach to accessibility and finally Evreux for its work to address the needs of people with hidden disabilities, notably autism.