As the international community finds itself in a situation of instability and turmoil, the European Blind Union (EBU) calls upon governments and authorities across the continent to design all necessary measures to stop the spread of the Corona virus in an inclusive and accessible manner. For example, the rights and needs of blind and partially sighted people must be fully taken on board, in order to guarantee that measures taken are inclusive. The most systematic way of achieving this is to ensure participation of representative organisations of persons who are blind or partially sighted when deciding upon new policies. We recall that, also during a phase of emergency, ALL rights of persons with disabilities including those who are blind or partially sighted, as enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, must be upheld. Particular attention should be given to:
- Article 7, according to which States Parties must provide information ain a wide range of accessible formats such as Braille, large print, plain text. This constitutes a precondition for blind and partially sighted people to access relevant information.
- Article 10, in which States Parties reaffirm the inherent right to life of all human beings and commit to taking all necessary measures to ensure its effective enjoyment by persons with disabilities, among them blind and partially sighted, on an equal basis with others.
- Article 11, States Parties shall take, in accordance with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters. This article applies to the current situation of Corona crisis.
- Article 25, States Parties recognize that persons with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability. Making this right real may well require adaptation of measures such as granting preferential treatment to persons who are blind or partially sighted so that they are not discriminated against on the grounds of their disability.
EBU will monitor the situation of blind and partially sighted people in our member countries during this phase of emergency. Furthermore, we fully endorse the statement published by the World Blind Union (WBU) of which we are a regional member. This statement is also available in French and Spanish.
EBU is also developing a resources and guidelines section of our website about the covid 19 crisis.