by Ana Pérez
Today is the International Day of persons with disabilities. COFACE, jointly with COFACE-Disability would like to take this opportunity to draw the attention to the challenges and barriers that still exist for people living with disabilities and their families, to live life to the full and enjoy their rights to participation, education and inclusion.
COFACE and COFACE-Disability have been advocating for many years in favour of changing the way we think about people with disabilities and their families and for the recognition of the status of family carer. We believe that recognising the role of family carers is a fundamental step to ameliorate their quality of life, enabling them to participate more actively in society and the labour market. We also need to find solution to stop the isolation that many families and family members are experiencing.
According to the United Nations, over one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability. In the EU, one in six people, around 80 million, have a disability. Over one third of people aged over 75 have some form of disability and these numbers are meant to grow with the aging of the population in the EU.
The European Commission proposed yesterday a European Accessibility Act, which will set common accessibility requirements for certain key products and services that will help people with disabilities at EU level to participate fully in society. We sincerely welcome the efforts of the European Commission for this long awaited directive and would like to congratulate in particular Commissioner Thyssen.
People with disabilities and their families still face a large number of barriers and are at a higher risk of discrimination and social exclusion. We sincerely hope that thanks to this piece of legislation we will be now going in the good direction.