The European Accessibility Resource Centre was officially launched this past Tuesday in an event chaired by Commissioner Helena Dalli and Miguel Carballeda, President of ONCE Social Group
European Economic and Social Committee hosted the official launching of the European Accessibility Resource Centre (AccessibleEU), which will promote the implementation of accessibility legislation in EU Member States.
The event was chaired by European Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, and the President of ONCE Social Group, Miguel Carballeda, who highlighted the relevance of creating AccessibleEU as lever for improving the quality of life of more than 80 million European citizens with disabilities.
AccessibleEU was launched by a consortium led by Fundación ONCE, an international renowned organisation in the field of accessibility, Johannes Kepler University Linz and the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT). The Spanish Association for Standardization (UNE) and the European Association of Service Providers for People with Disabilities (EASPD) are also part of the consortium.
Jesús Hernández, Director of Accessibility and Innovation of Fundación ONCE; Inmaculada Placencia, Senior Expert on Disability and Inclusion at the European Commission Directorate General for Employment, and Sachin Dev Pavithran, Executive Director of US Access Board explained both the objectives of AccessibleEU and its North American counterpart.
AccessibleEU is one of the flagship initiatives proposed by the European Commission’s Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030. It aims to increase coherence in accessibility policies and facilitate access to relevant knowledge.
AccessibleEU will bring together national authorities responsible for implementing and ensuring compliance with accessibility standards along with experts and other professionals from all accessibility fields, to share good practices, inspire the development of both national and European policies and promote tools and standards aimed at facilitating the implementation of European Union Law.
The main goal of AccessibleEU is to facilitate the practical application of EU legislation on accessibility to improve the availability of more accessible products, services and infrastructures across the EU.
In this regard, the Centre will offer an online library specialised in accessibility that will include direct links to the most important databases on legislation, standards, documentation on accessibility, assistive technologies and products, among others.
Additionally, the Centre will create a network of national experts that will be in charge of bringing together stakeholders and creating a common European space, in the style of a one-stop-shop, that will offer knowledge about accessibility, professional training programs, promote standardisation and the participation of persons with disabilities in its processes.
Lastly, AccessibleEU will offer guidelines on how to implement disability related policies across different sectors and will monitor compliance with accessibility standards and rules. An innovative self-assessment methodology will be designed for this task.
Prior to the presentation of the Centre’s goals, a response session was held chaired by Katarina Invakovic-Knezevic, Director DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. Pietro Vittorio Barbieri, member of the European Economic and Social Committee; Ioannis Vardakastanis, President of the European Disability Forum; Katrin Langensiepen, MEP, and Carme Artigas, Secretary of State for Digitization and Artificial Intelligence of the Government of Spain participated in the discussion.
Additionally, two workshops were organised. One dealt with how to promote the participation of people with disabilities in technical standardisation committees, and the other with the importance of sharing experiences as the basis for AccessibleEU.