To contribute to the current debate at EU level on the development and implementation of legislation and policies to implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, AGE Platform Europe and the EDF -European Disability Forum have issued a joint position paper on the Future EU Digital Agenda. This paper wishes to highlight all aspects of the Information Society which are relevant to older people and persons with disabilities.
Taking as a starting point the strong belief that access to the Information Society is a fundamental right for everyone, this document highlights the important role that ICT can play in enhancing independent living and social inclusion, safety and health of older people and persons with disabilities, especially in the current context of demographic ageing. To achieve an inclusive Information Society, ICT solutions must be accessible and affordable to all, reflecting the needs of all end-users. The EU should put end-users centered research development among the priorities of its agenda and adopt measures and policies enabling older people and persons with disabilities to lead an independent life and participate fully in society on an equal basis.
Therefore AGE and EDF address the following top-ten recommendations:
1. The EU should adopt an EU horizontal legislation on e- and web-accessibility underpinned by standardisation.
2. The EU should strongly encourage awareness raising, training and supporting activities, in line with the needs of older people and persons with disabilities, including ‘train the trainers’ in informal local social and family networks as well as local service providers.
3. The EU and Member States should ensure that public e-services and websites, especially e-voting systems, are accessible to all, including persons with disabilities and older citizens.
4. The EU should extend the scope of the Universal Service Directive to cover mobile phones and broadband access to Internet services.
5. The EU should ensure through a copyright exception in the Single Market Directive the legal cross-border exchange of copyright protected content in alternative formats to the benefit of persons with disabilities for non-profit purposes at no extra costs.
6. The needs of older people and persons with disabilities should be taken into account right from the outset and along the whole production chain to develop accessible ICT products and services.
7. The participation and involvement of older people and persons with disabilities in policy-making, research, development, implementation and standardisation of ICT products and services should be compulsory and financially supported by public funding schemes.
8. E-health products and services should be accessible to older people and persons with disabilities.
9. ICT solutions embedding privacy into their systems by design should be particularly encouraged, while monitoring of the operation of such systems should also take place.
10. The EU should play a significant role in ensuring that e-products and services are accessible, affordable, safe and secure for all, including older people and persons with disabilities.
AGE and EDF believe that only a European integrated and holistic approach that combines technological and social innovation with an adequate legal framework will enable older people and persons with disabilities to take full advantage of the Information Society.