DISCIT: Making persons with disabilities
full citizens. To be an active citizen means that you can
choose to participate fully in society. You can have security, autonomy and influence. Security from major life risks.
For example, to be able to receive care in a hospital. Autonomy to choose to live in the community,
to get a job and be economically independent. Influence on decisions that concern your life. For example, to be able to participate in
community decisions, to vote or to be elected. Does this sound easy?
Can we all be active citizens? People with disabilities in Europe still face barriers
that prevent them from being active parts of society. And you know, they are not a small minority. As a matter of fact, there are 80 million
Europeans with disabilities. That’s 16% of the whole EU population. People with disabilities do not have equal
opportunities like other citizens. Our society is still far from being inclusive to all. People with disabilities who need more support
are more likely to be left out. In many European countries, people with disabilities including children
and persons with psychosocial disabilities are confined to institutions,
separated from their families. They cannot make choices about where they want to live, or with whom they want to live. People with disabilities and especially women have less chance to get a job than their peers without disabilities. Using public transport like the metro or the bus can be impossible for a person with a disability as many means of transport are still not accessible. Some persons with disabilities need to make use of technologies like wheelchairs, screen readers, hearing aids, etc. This technology
is sometimes not affordable or difficult to get. Finally, some people with disabilities in Europe are denied their legal capacity and
others decide for them. They face barriers to voting or being elected.
They might not be able to access the polling stations and they might not be able to receive information
in the format they need. Marc is deaf.
To watch the electoral debates on TV, sign language interpretation or subtitles are necessary. Luisa is blind. To make her selection and
cast her ballot autonomously, the ballot should be provided to her in braille or other accessible formats. For the first time in its history, in 2010, the European Union signed an international human rights treaty, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. That means that it committed to apply
the principles of the Convention in all of its work. The UN Convention states clearly that people
with disabilities should not be discriminated or excluded from any aspect of life. Article 12 of the UN Convention, for instance, says that state parties should recognise that persons with disabilities enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others in all aspects of life. They should also provide support to exercise
their legal capacity. An effective implementation of the UN Convention will bring a real change to the lives of 80
million people with disabilities in Europe. DISCIT project understands the UN Convention
as the goal to achieve. The project aims at finding effective new
ways to remove barriers to active citizenship. The project produced new knowledge to enable
the European Union and its Member States to facilitate full and effective participation
of persons with disabilities in society and economy. The project focussed especially on the role of social services, access to work, community living, accessible technologies and political participation. Find out more at www.discit.eu DISCIT project received funding from the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration, under grant agreement number 320079. European Disability Forum Nothing about us without us. www.edf-feph.org