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Breaking down the barriers for those with disabilities
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Published on 14-12-11

Views are being sought by the European Commission on obstacles faced by people with disabilities.  The findings will help the Commission prepare draft legislation for a European Accessibility Act, due in Autumn 2012, which will ensure people with disabilities can fully participate in society.

Interested parties have until 29 February 2012 to respond to the public consultation.

    Breaking down the barriers for those with disabilities

    One in six people in the EU – that's around 80 million people – have a disability that ranges from mild to severe. Over one third of people aged over 75 have disabilities that restrict them to some extent. These numbers are set to rise as the EU population grows progressively older. Most of these people are all too often prevented from fully participating in society and the economy because of physical or other barriers, as well as discrimination.

    "Accessibility is about breaking down barriers to people with disabilities in buildings, transport and online. Improving access also makes life easier for older people, parents with small children and many others," said EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding.

    "Making goods and services more accessible is also about creating market opportunities and can be a stimulus for innovation and growth. That is why we are consulting business as well as people with disabilities, older people and the public at large."

    A study by the UK’s Royal National Institute of the Blind showed that a £35,000 investment by a supermarket chain in making their website accessible brought in additional revenue of over £13 million a year.


    The Commission adopted a comprehensive strategy last year to create a barrier-free Europe for people with disabilities by 2020 (IP/10/1505). The plan outlines how the EU and national governments can empower people with disabilities so they can enjoy their rights.

    One of the key actions included was an accessibility initiative. The aim is to use standardisation or public procurement rules to make all goods and services accessible to people with disabilities while fostering an EU market for assistive devices that support independent living.

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    Last update: 14/12/2011  |Top