Books - Marrakesh Treaty
Our enquiry (April 1st) to our member in Armenia about the status of their country toward joining the Treaty has remained unanswered to-date.
Accessible e-books – Implementation of Accessibility Act
We attended Daisy Consortium's Open Forum on EU Inclusive Publishing meeting of 26 April, where the issue of the backlist/legacy e-books was discussed again in the light of our reaction to the report of their previous meeting. Good news: apparently there is now consensus, among Member States as well as within the Forum on the position that, as clarified by the Commission, the backlist is included in the EAA. Discussion on this matter will now focus on how to prioritise which legacy e-books to provide with accessible format as a matter of priority. The Forum intends to help publishers in the matter, with a working group to prepare recommendations, and EBU will want to participate in this.
The EU standard EN 81-70:2021/FprA1 ‘Safety rules for the construction and installation of lifts - Particular applications for passenger and goods passenger lift - Part 70: Accessibility to lifts for persons including persons with disability’, was approved. This is a welcome development, and so is the fact that the European Commission has decided not to quote in the Official Journal the present version of EN 81-70 (the Accessibility to Lifts standard) but to wait for the amendment resulting from the ANEC’s appeal to be ready.
We carried out a further analysis of Creative Europe/MEDIA calls for proposals, with a view to issuing a press release, more critical this time, one year after our previous press release on the matter.
On 8 April we relayed to our member organisations in the EU a European Disability Forum request to lobby their national governments on the Digital Services Act (DSA) to support the European Parliament’s position against the EU Council in interinstitutional negotiations, on the following two points: a reference to the European Accessibility Act in the DSA, and no reduction of its scope to very large online platforms only. Sadly, the provisional agreement reached on 23 April by the Council and the Parliament does not give us satisfaction.
We attended the WAI-Coop online open meeting of 19 April. We took this opportunity to ask this to the European Commission representative: EU websites and apps are particularly important to connect citizens to the EU. Although the Web Accessibility Directive (WAD) does not apply to the websites and apps of the EU institutions, is the Commission nevertheless somehow using the monitoring process by Member States and resulting feedback to improve its own performance? Reply: yes, also because in the WAD, there is an EU commitment to lead by example. The effort currently focuses on rolling out accessibility statements—a very long process—and the Commission is not yet in position to launch formal monitoring. We are encouraged to press Commissioners Dalli and/or Hahn to press for that. EDF intervened to ask about the action plan announced in Disability Rights Strategy, to regret that although it was due for 2021, it has not been published yet.
Accessible payment – implementation of Accessible Act
On 4 April, the Chair of EBU Commission for Liaising with the EU 4/04: LC Chair appointed the "working group for accessible payment terminals and other self-service terminals", with 12 countries represented and 3 leaders: Estonia, the Netherlands, and Sweden (instead of Germany as written earlier, after all)
MEP Langensiepen's report—for which she had consulted us—on the AccessibleEU resource centre calls for a strong mandate, stable resources for AccessibleEU, which should bring together national authorities and experts to help Member States meet accessibility requirements.
After careful analysis, we can be content with the Constitutional Affairs committee of the European Parliament (AFCO) vote of late March on the reform of the EU electoral code. Big wins so far are: a new accessibility article including appropriate measures to vote independently and in secret; the free choice of assistance; and the accessibility of postal voting & political campaigns. Newt step: both texts (draft regulation and accompanying legislative resolution) will be voted on by the European Parliament plenary, possibly during the 2-5 May session.
After chasing the International Transport Forum Secretariat to get confirmation of a slot for EBU to present the PAsCAL project, we were disappointed to learn that ITF would like us to address the broader issue of the digital gap in the development of mobility technologies and that they ask us to liaise with WBU with whom they are already in contact for the 2022 edition. We therefore decided to drop our participation in the ITF 2022 and leave WBU to represent BPS people.
We are consulting the members of our Road Safety and Accessibility of Transport group for a possible EBU reply to a European Commission consultation on the safety of automated vehicles (revision of the implementing regulation).
Review of the EU by the UN CRPD committee
On 19 April, the CRPD committee published its list of issues prior to reporting. Very many of the issues flagged in the EDF alternative report—supported by EBU—are raised. Notably, the committee requests the European Commission to provide information, on behalf of the EU, namely on the following issues of importance to us:
- Implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty
- Unblocking the proposed horizontal directive on equal treatment
- Areas not covered by the European Accessibility Act
- Participation of disabled persons’ organisations in the standardisation processes under the European Accessibility Act
- How disability assessments, qualifications for and transfer of social security benefits, and others, impact the possibility of persons with disabilities to exercise their right to move and reside freely within the EU
- Facilitating the availability to accessible languages, formats and technologies, including Braille
- Ensuring the right of persons with disabilities to vote and stand as candidates in the elections to the European Parliament
- The use by Eurostat of reliable and comparable data, disaggregated data by type of disability, with a human rights-based indicators system
- Measures taken to protect the safety of persons with disabilities affected by the hostilities in Ukraine
On the negative side, considering the issues EBU had particularly put forward in its statement to the committee, we regret that the following is not mentioned:
- The specific problem that the EU Marrakesh Treaty Directive leaves the option to Member States to provide for compensation for rightsholders and publishers
- The extent to which Creative Europe funding effectively promotes accessibility of films (the issue is too loosely formulated as "accessibility of EU culture and sports programmes")
- The accessibility of the European Commission’s public consultations in general
Next steps: once the Committee will receive the Commission replies to the list of issues, it will schedule an interactive dialogue with the EU. Based on the results of that dialogue, it will then—probably not before the end of this year—adopt recommendations in the form of ‘concluding observations’. We will possibly intervene again before that, should we feel the need to object to some of the Commission replies.
Invited by MEP Adam Kósa, member of the European Parliament’s Disability Intergroup, to suggest parliamentary questions to the European Commission, we proposed these two questions:
- Blind and deaf-blind people and people with sensorial impairment in general are at higher risk of being left behind in evacuations from Ukraine, and of experiencing violence and abuse. Does ECHO have figures of how many such persons have reached the EU? And information about which services they have been referred to?
- Until now, a significant amount of the work to welcome refugees with disabilities in the bordering countries, including their relocation to housing and support in other EU countries, is done by the disability movement and NGOs. How is the Commission ensuring that EU-funded humanitarian aid operations follow the Inter-Agency Standing Committee 2019 Guidelines on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action?