In occasion of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, the European Commission and the European Disability Forum (EDF) organised a conference in Brussels which addressed the current situation of children and young people with disabilities in Europe.
The event gathered not only European policy-makers, the EDF and the Fundamental Rights Agency, academics and civil society representatives, but also children and youngsters with disabilities and their parents. They were invited to discuss the social, educational and vocational inclusion of people with disabilities into society.
Yet, nowadays people with disabilities have significantly less success in attending schools and completing education and vocational training than persons without disabilities. Therefore, they risk having worse chances to obtain employment and to be integrated in society.
To achieve inclusion into society, Chief Executive Officer Pat Clarke from Down Syndrome Ireland (DSI) stressed that:
"People with disabilities need more opportunities in the areas of education, health, culture, social activities etc. Equal access to schools, universities, internships etc. as well as recognizing and valuing lifelong learning and non-formal education is important to be integrated in society and conduct an employment".
All over Europe, efforts must be strengthened to allow a successful and harmonious inclusion, especially in terms of investments and political will. The EU, as party to the UN convention of rights of persons with disabilities, has developed the European Disability Strategy 2010–2020 to implement the rights of people with disabilities.
The strategy has identified eight main areas of action: accessibility, participation, equality, employment, education and training, social protection, health and external action.
Since integration and inclusion can only be achieved by allowing people with disabilities to be part of decisions concerning their lives, Commissioner Marianne Thyssen launched a public consultation in order to investigates citizens' opinions on the challenges and achievements on the Disability Strategy's different areas.
EAEA, in cooperation with the Adult Education made Accessible network (AEMA), will both take part in the consultation and promote the survey widely in its membership in order to make the voice of adult learners with disabilities heard.
The consultation is open until the 18 of March 2016 and can be accessed through the Commission website.
Text: Ricarda Cramer
Photos: European Commission, DG EMPL
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