European Commission proposes making products and services more accessible

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Friday, 4 December 2015 14:59pm

The European Commission has proposed a European Accessibility Act which will set accessibility requirements for key products across the European Union (EU), making them more accessible for people with disabilities. The products include ATMs and banking services, telephones, TV equipment, transport, e-books and e-commerce.

European Union flag flying atop a flagpole

In a press release, Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said, "Disability should not be a barrier to full participation in society, nor should the lack of EU common rules be a barrier to cross-border trade in accessible products and services.With this Act, we want to deepen the internal market and use its potential for the benefit of both companies and citizens with disabilities. In fact, we all may benefit from it.”

The commission states that the act will “make it easier for producers and service providers to export products and services that comply with the EU requirements, since they won't need to adjust to divergent national rules. In particular, this will help small business to take full advantage of the EU market.” There will, however, be a clause exempting micro-enterprises from the requirements should they impose a disproportionate burden.

In 2011, the EU ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Article 9 of the convention contains obligations for states to ensure that people with disabilities have access to a range of goods and services on an equal basis with others. All EU member states have signed the convention and 25 have ratified it.

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