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Accessibility Act: European Parliament pass the draft “European Accessibility Act” with several improvements

The draft “European Accessibility Act” (EAA) sets out requirements to make a number of products and services more accessible. The list includes: ticketing and check-in machines, ATMs, PCs and operating systems, phones and TV equipment, consumer banking services, e-books, e-commerce, transport, including public urban transport such as underground, rail, tramway, trolleybus and bus, and the related services, such as payment terminals, e-book readers, websites and mobile device-based services offered by audio visual media and tourism services.

The EAA, as the Parliament has said “is a directive that includes persons with disabilities as well as persons with temporary or permanent functional limitations”, such as elderly persons, pregnant women and persons travelling with luggage, “in order to ensure genuine benefits and an independent life for a wider portion of society”.

The EAA will outline what needs to be accessible, but will not impose detailed technical solutions as to how to make it accessible, thus allowing for innovation.

The voting was this past Thursday 14th September and we are happywith the decisions adopted. A strong Accessibility Act was crucial to make a real difference in the lives of all people in Europe, including 80 million persons with disabilities and 150 million older people.

Leaded by a report from IMCO (Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee’s) most MEP’s were worried accessibility requirements would impose too many restrictions on business, products and services, so in a lot of cases they wanted to water down several articles or include loopholes for national governments do their own legislation ignoring European requests, like for example: excluding from the Act local metros, trams or buses, as well as force to have an accessible cash machine but not an accessible bank building, which makes no sense.

During the lasts years and mostly this past months, EDF and all the disability movement, including us, EURO-CIU, were trying to reach a bar of minimal standards for all European countries to accomplish in the near future, an accessible environment in all segments of society and after this vote, the EAA is more close to be approved assuring for example, that taxpayers’ money could only be spent on accessible products and services.

We feel like the European Parliament has given a step ahead to try to improve all our lives in a more profound way, helping in their motto of “freedom of movement for all”, but we are disappointed the final draft law also includes safeguard clauses for micro-enterprises (less than 10 workers) in fear of what they say, could create a disproportionate burden. 

"The cost of accessibility should not be seen as a burden but as an investment" Irish MEP Deirdre Clune 

“We need a text worthy of this chamber!" Italian MEP Nicola Danti 

“Accessibility is the right to education, work and free movement" Spanish MEP Rosa Estaràs Ferragut

“We have to remove all barriers" Hungarian MEP Ádám Kósa

We want to thank all MEPs who voted in favour the amended text which was approved by 537 votes to 12, with 89 abstentions.

This vote gives Parliament’s team a mandate to start negotiations with Council, which has yet to agree on its position. We will keep you all informed.