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MEDIA RELEASE: Barriers to accessibility for individuals with disabilities create barriers for the family as a whole

3 December 2018, International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Persons with disabilities are the largest minority in the world, representing 10% of the total population of our planet and 80 million people in the EU, and this number will increase with the ageing of the population. COFACE Families Europe (together with its COFACE Disability – Platform for the rights of persons with disabilities and their families) engages for a change of mindset towards disability focusing on the removal of the barriers that prevent the social inclusion of persons with disabilities and their families in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the European Pillar of Social Rights.

On this European Day of Persons with Disabilities, the EU can congratulate itself on making positive steps towards greater accessibility of everyday products and services for persons with disabilities. In November, an agreement was reached on the European Accessibility Act, establishing common accessibility requirements for key products and services such as phones, computers, payment terminals or self-service terminals, banking services, electronic communications including the 112 emergency number, and access to audio-visual media services. “Nevertheless, persons with disabilities  and their families are still confronted with physical obstacles and discrimination, with continued barriers to employment, transport, buildings, leisure, education and political participation. This needs to be addressed urgently at all levels.” says COFACE Families Europe President, Annemie Drieskens.

Various testimonies from our European consultation of family carers in 2017 point to different challenges and lack of accessibility for their family members: “Another problem is the accessibility to public places, such as social security is on the 2nd floor without elevator”, reported one of the respondents. The challenges of family carers are multiple, and support to them also goes through universal accessibility and independent living for their family members, so that the whole family can fully participate in society. Our European Charter of Family Carers states clearly that “adequate community-based support services for persons with disabilities should include personal budget and assistance, housing, mobility and transport, education and training, employment, healthcare, resources and appropriate services”.

As members of the European Disability Forum, COFACE Families Europe supports the campaign to promote political participation of persons with disabilities in the next European elections. We join the call for European elections for all and urge the EU to work on an ambitious EU Disability Strategy for the years to come to ensure full accessibility and participation for 80 million European citizens.


For further information, please contact: Irene Bertana, COFACE Policy and Advocacy Officer


Note to the editor

COFACE Families Europe is a European network of civil society associations representing the interests of families (all types, without discrimination). COFACE’s areas of work include social/family policy, education, disability, gender equality, migration, consumer issues, and also protection of children online, privacy, data protection and reflections on technological developments and how they may impact families. More:

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