On July 4th, we travelled to Brussels to attend the launch of the AccessibleEU resource centre, one of the flagship initiatives of the European Commission’ Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Funded by the European Commission, this centre will be run by a consortium led by Fundación ONCE alongside the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD), Johannes Kepler University Linz (JKU) and the Spanish Association for Standardization (UNE).
In a presentation hosted at the facilities of the European Economic and Social Committee, its pioneers emphasized that AccessibleEU has been envisioned as a tool for all stakeholders to join efforts to promote accessibility in all key areas of life (built environment, transport, information, communication technologies and policies).
During the event, persons with disabilities’ organizations highlighted that it would have been good to have it designed as a US-type accessibility agency, thus giving it other competences like setting standards, monitoring on accessibility and reporting to policy-makers.
However, all participants also pinpointed that AccessibleEU can nevertheless bring significant progress with adequate political and financial support. Among other potential benefits, they acknowledged that this centre could make up, to some extent, for the under-representation of civil society organizations in standardisation processes. At the same time, it was also recognized that the center could also foster the development of certified professional expertise, an essential need considering the increasing digitalization of products and services.