The EBU 2015-2017 action plan submitted in the framework of the Rights Equality and Citizenship Programme has been accepted by the European Commission. This grant covers a proportion of the EBU office's operating costs (salaries, office rental, accountancy and human resources support) while offering the possibility to carry out concrete activities set out in 3 successive yearly work programmes.
The 2015 work programme (shortened in “REC15”), available upon request, dispatched activities into four main categories: campaigning, reports, capacity-building and communication.
In 2015, EBU continued to actively campaign to defend the rights of blind and partially sighted European citizens on a wide range of policy areas, including:
- Accessibility Act. On 02 December, the European Commission proposed an “EU Accessibility Act” (EEA), promised back in 2011. EBU is now working together with EDF and ANEC urging a really strong, effective EAA.
- Access to books. EBU continued to lobby for the EC to start the ratification process of the WIPO “Marrakech treaty to Improve Access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled” adopted in 2013, and quickly resolve the legal questions raised by blocking countries, such as Germany and Italy, about the way ratification should work.
- EU Accessible Websites Directive. EBU continued to ensure that all policy makers understand that most people now consume web content on mobile devices and through apps - and that apps are often the easiest way to access a service or information, including for blind and partially sighted people.
- Silent vehicles.EBU continued to lobby for the prohibition of a pause switch, the installation of a stationary sound and a minimum sound level which enables pedestrians to detect the presence and operation of a moving vehicle, so that such requirements are part of the UNECE regulation to be adopted in Mid-May 2016, and likely to be incorporated into the EU regulation.
- Accessibility of payment terminals. In 2015, EBU contributed to gradually building a single-issue European platform with one goal: barrier free access to payment terminals for all. The Pay-able platform will be launched early 2016.
A coordination meeting of the EBU commission for Liaising with the EU was held in Tirrenia, Italy, on 12-13 December.
EC funding also enabled to cover travel and subsistence costs of EBU leaders to represent EBU in political and technical meetings throughout Europe, and to collaborate with a Brussels-based agency responsible for a/ monitoring and intelligence gathering focused on legislation on access to information, good and services and b/ targeted EU contact programme.
Analytical work was pursued in 2015 through the following activities:
- In the continuity of the analysis work initiated in 2014 with the production of a report on article 28, EBU produced a new UNCRPD report on article 20 “Personal mobility”.
- Based on work already carried out, in particular in 2014, EBU drafted recommendations on rehabilitation of blind and partially sighted individuals, as a complement to the future guidelines of the World Health Organisation.
- In collaboration with ICEVI-Europe, EBU initiated a 3-year activity aiming to analyse the accessibility of exchange programs for BPS students. In 2015, a state-of-the-art report was produced to provide a clear overview of the barriers faced by thousands of BPS students in their attempt to go abroad and study in a foreign university in areas such accessibility of exams, materials, rooms, activities, level of training of resource staff to support BPS students, availability of disability contact persons or not, mobility within the universities, etc.
EBU continues to reinforce our members' capacities in different areas such as:
- Accessibility: On 25 June, EBU held a first e-workshop on accessibility of Accessibility of lifts – current status and next steps in relation to usability for persons with visual impairment”. It should be followed by a new one in late December.
- Social media as a powerful campaigning tool. A new training session was held in Paris, France, on 8-9 October with a view to equip members of the EBU campaigns network with skills on how to directly interact through Twitter as individuals with EU legislators (e.g. the Commission, MEPs and Council) and national governments on issues of importance to EBU. An EBU Twitter Strategy is also being produced as part of a future revised communication strategy to be adopted after the next General Assembly.
- Ageing. A facilitators training was held in Premantura, Croatia, on 20-21 August to equip EBU members with the necessary skills to empower the increasing number of elderly BPS persons in Europe. The training was based on the VISAL course (External link) . Each newly-trained facilitator is now responsible for organising one full VISAL course by the end of the year.
- Youth employability. BPS youngsters were trained in how to improve their employability in late July in Tirrenia, Italy, on 29-31 July. they are now responsible for organizing 2 short national training sessions on the same topics by the end of the year.
- Low vision rehabilitation. EBU produced a toolkit to promote and implement nationally the 10 minimum standards developed in 2014. The toolkit proposes practical steps based on existing good practice and will help EBU member organisations, in particular those who rely heavily on volunteer work, in their efforts to provide adequate low vision services.
- Gender equality. As part of the 2015-2017 action plan, EBU continued to promote gender equality by producing, in 2015, a publication entitled “The future we want: a toolkit to promote gender equality”. Aiming to raise awareness of the importance of including gender in decision-making processes and will be used in the coming years to train EBU and its members, the toolkit will contain a collection of training materials and exercises which will introduce some general gender concepts related to BPS women of all ages in all geographic Europe.
INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION
In 2015, EBU pursues efforts to raise its profile and raise awareness on BPS' needs and concerns with European decision makers and the general public through the following channels:
- EBU website.
- EBU press releases.
- EBU newsletter, currently issued every two months in English, French, German and Spanish.
- A new action sheet entitled “Children and youth with a visual impairment - What is needed to obtain successful inclusion?” was produced.
In addition, EBU's 2014 annual report is now available.
Finally, the EBU information paper “Rehabilitation and Older People with Acquired Sight Loss” was translated into French, German and Spanish.
For more information on the REC15 work programme, please contact Romain Ferretti, EBU Project Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This work programme is being co-funded by the "Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme" Programme of the European Union.