Update April 2007

01 May 2007

EUD Members News

Bristol University’s Deaf Studies Centre Visit Great Success

The Cyprus Federation of the Deaf and Intercollege invited the Harry Crook Professor in Deaf Studies Dr. Jim KYLE and Deaf specialist in Sign language acquisition and sociolinguistics, Ms. Linda DAY to visit Cyprus, January 25-28, 2007. In addition to extensive discussions with the Deaf Federation, the visit was densely packed with visits to the Deaf school, a mainstream primary and secondary school, a Deaf furniture factory cooperative and with a discussion of possible technical research with CARDET, the consultancy center and the Research Center of Intercollege.

The highlight of the visit was a very successful seminar on Saturday the 27 th when both Jim and Linda shared very insightful research findings to support the use of Sign Language in Education. It was attended by a crowd of 130 people, 50% of which were interested hearing teachers, parents and administrators. The interest of the hearing community is very encouraging for positive progress in the Cypriot Deaf community.

Cooperation between Intercollege, the Cypriot Deaf community and other foreign Universities started in 1998 with a grant from Gallaudet University’s Center for Global Education. The expanding number of students at Intercollege and abroad interested in becoming involved in this work is increasing. According to Steve PRICE, Senior Lecturer of Social Science, “we are presently interested in developing educational, industrial and life-learning projects that will contribute to the empowerment of the Deaf community. This is one of the hallmarks of the 2007 European Year for Equal Opportunities for All (EYEO), which officially started in Berlin on January 30th at the first ever Equality Summit.”

Written by Steve PRICE

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Official campaign for recognition of Irish sign language

A Campaign to have sign language officially recognised stepped up as deaf people took to the streets to highlight their cause.

A mass demonstration through Dublin City Centre by the IDS was the latest public call for support to have sign language recognised as Ireland's 3rd language. Under Article 8 of the Constitution, Irish is the country's first official language with English the second tongue. Deaf people now want sign language as the third. Deaf groups have been campaigning for several years to have Irish Sign Language officially recognised by the State.

To date the Government has made no commitment but the idea has been considered. In 2003 Minister for Justice Michael McDOWELL said the matter had been discussed from a number of departments. TD Sean CROWE pledged his support for the IDS saying sign language should gain official recognition. He said "Deaf people are a minority who has done particularly badly under the Celtic Tiger" There needs to be more resources for deaf people and the language should be officially recognised".  Irish sign language is unique to this country. A spokesman for the IDS said "Irish Sign Language is the first or preferred language of deaf people in this country”.

Source: Irish Deaf Society - published on Irish National Newspaper: Star Sunday (22 nd April 2007)

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EDF News

“1million4disability” Campaign

The objective of the campaign is to collect at least 1 000 000 signatures to combat discrimination in all aspects of the lives of disabled citizens in Europe.

Why a million? The European Union cannot ignore the call of at least 1 million citizens.  A provision based on this principle was even stated in the draft European Union Constitutional Treaty.

We want to take the opportunity of EDF 10 th anniversary, not to blow on 10 candles, but to blow out disability discrimination in Europe. It is a unique opportunity we all have to act in favour of a comprehensive EU legislation to combat discrimination against persons with disabilities.

How can I join the movement and sign the petition?

Since the campaign has started, the official website www.1million4disability.eu offers the opportunity to collect every single signature.

The website has been especially designed to be as accessible as possible to allow a wider public to sign very easily.

Thanks to all National Disability Councils, all campaign material and the SIGN page of the website are available in all EU languages, by simply clicking on your national flag.

A signature form is also available on the website in every language on the following link;http://www.1million4disability.eu/materials.asp?langue=EN. Each page can contain 10 names and signatures. You can download this form, print it, let your contacts sign it and send it back to EDF Secretariat by fax or regular mail. Please avoid returning the form with one or two signatures and make sure to have collected as many signatures as possible.

Ask your friends, your family, your colleagues, and your neighbourhood to sign. The aim of this petition is not to collect money nor to gather subscriptions but it is a tool for the recognition of disabled persons as equal citizens.

Source: EDF Campaign Flash

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German Minister for Social Affairs and Employment called EDF to continue to campaign for a European anti-discrimination legislation

German Minister for Social Affairs and EDF PresidentGerman Minister for Social Affairs and EDF President
When addressing the EDF Board members in Berlin on 24 February 2007, Mr MÜNTEFERING, German Minister for Social Affairs and Employment, informed the disability representatives about the joint efforts of Germany, Portugal and Slovenia to anchor the social dimension in Europe: “We have to contribute to Europe’s advancement. When the proposal for a disability specific directive will be presented at EU level, we will support it.” He also congratulated EDF for its intensive work over the past years: “Nothing about us without us is the motto of your organisation. We believe in your message and we implement it”.

EDF President welcomed the words of the German Minister and presented EDF campaign “1million4disability” to gather of one million signatures across Europe in favour of stronger disability legislation. “We cannot imagine a Europe that will not provide equal treatment for all its citizens. We will not give up; we will keep putting the pressure and remain at the front line to defend the social and human rights approach. It is the right way forward”.

Source: EDF Press Release

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European Union News

PROGRESS – the EU Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity 2007-2013

PROGRESS is the EU’s new employment and social solidarity programme working alongside the European Social Fund (ESF). Starting in 2007, it will run until 2013. This single programme replaces the four previous ones which ended in 2006 in a move to rationalise and streamline EU funding.

It is divided into five policy sections:

  • Employment
  • Social inclusion and social protection
  • Working conditions
  • Anti-discrimination
  • Gender equality

Whereas the ESF invests in the implementation of employment and social inclusion policies in the Member States, PROGRESS will focus on activities with a strong European dimension to ensure an EU added value. These activities aim to ensure that the EU can, for example, monitor the uniform application of Community law in the Member States or supervise the extent to which national policies reflect EU objectives and policies. It will spend its budget of over € 700 million on analysing, networking an sharing of information to improve policy and practice and in campaigns to highlight key employment and social issues over its seven years of implementation.

For more information, visit the PROGRESS website:

Source: For Diversity Against Discrimination Newsletter (April 2007)

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EU takes 5 Member States to court for 112 caller location deficiencies

In a new round of proceedings for infringements of EU telecom rules (so-called regulatory framework for electronic communications of 2002), the European Commission has decided to refer six Member States to the European Court of Justice: Italy, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Portugal and Slovakia for deficiencies related to Europe’s emergency number 112.

Telecommunications operators are obliged to provide, when they receive emergency calls from fixed and mobile phones, caller information to emergency services, if technically feasible. This is to ensure that public safety answering points receive the most accurate information available about the caller’s location. In March 2005, the Commission noted that from then onwards, they would regard the provision of caller location as technically feasible, since it was available in the majority of Member States. Provision of caller location obligation is especially important for persons with disabilities, given the still existing difficulties in providing suitable conversational relays for persons with certain disabilities. In the absence of a possibility to communicate with the 112 operator via a suitable relay (for example, for deaf persons), caller location information may be the only available tool to get assistance in emergencies.

The Commission also announced that it closed a case against Finland on alleged non-compliance with the universal service obligation. It had previously been suspected that Finland had not complied with the obligation to guarantee basic services for consumers, such as connection and telephone services from a fixed location, public payphones, directory services and where appropriate, measures for disabled users with minimum levels of availability and affordability. Following the adoption of new legislation in Finland, the Commission decided to close the case against it.

More information can be obtained from the European Commission website, click here!

Source: EDF Weekly Mailing 07/2007

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Other News

The European Communities signed the first UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

On the 30 March, the signature ceremony of the new UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities can be qualified as a historical event. For the first time, a United Nations Treaty focuses on the protection of persons with disabilities’ rights. It is also the first time that the European Communities participate in the negotiations and sign a United Nations Treaty, which is a significant development from the institutional point of view. People with disabilities will be the first European citizens whose Human Rights will be protected under the Community legal framework.

53 countries signed in New York the Convention, the first to be adopted in the past 16 years and on the XXI century. Among these countries, 20 Member States have decided to sign the text at the official opening signature ceremony. By signing, a country commits to engage in the ratification process which will make the country a state party to the Convention and its provisions binding.

The representatives from 350 international disability organizations are also attending the official ceremony, including Yannis VARDAKASTANIS - President of the European Disability Forum (EDF), the representative Platform of disabled people in the EU. EDF has played a key role throughout the negotiations, which started in 2001, leading the disability movement during the discussions and acting as facilitator to reach consensus.

“Words are there, deeds are waiting”, stressed VARDAKASTANIS a few minutes before the opening ceremony. “The Convention is a major success for the 650 million disabled people in the world, but the real work starts now. All signatory States, including the European Community have committed and must guarantee that the Convention is much more than a piece of paper. We now expect that in these countries disabled people will enjoy the same Human Rights as non-disabled”, said VARDAKASTANIS.

EDF President regretted that the European Communities will not sign the additional protocol of the United Nations Convention due to the opposition of some member States ( France, Denmark and the United Kingdom) which fear the legal implications of this text. The Optional Protocol allows individual and collective complains if the Convention is not respected, once national recourse procedures have been exhausted. “It is quite shocking and difficult to understand that these countries, which are considered to be the Human Rights champions in Europe, have refused to sign this important protocol”, declared EDF President.

The European Disability Forum has called on all EU Member States and the European Community for a rapid ratification of the Convention and is currently collection one million signatures across the European Union for a European disability Directive that will be in line with the new international Convention. VARDAKASTANIS: “The EU has spoken in one voice for the adoption of this Convention. A European disability Directive is the only way to guarantee that disability legislation is harmonized in all member States and that discrimination towards disabled people becomes part of EU History”.   

The text of the Convention and the Protocol can be downloaded from:http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/facts.shtml

Source: EDF Weekly Mailing 09/2007

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