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People with disabilities are people with rights. With the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities a big step has been taken in the movement from viewing persons with disabilities as "objects" of charity, medical treatment and social protection towards viewing persons with disabilities as "subjects" with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives based on their free and informed consent as well as being active members of society.
But to make this a reality we have to make sure that people with disabilities have access to society and are able to participate in society and have the same choices as non-disabled persons. Accessibility can eliminate most participation restrictions and give people with disabilities the opportunity to lead active productive lives well integrated in society and family.
Accessibility is a very important part of the inclusion of people with disabilities in society. An accessible and barrier free environment is the first step towards fulfilling the right of people with disabilities to participate in all areas of community life. An accessible society is a key for a society based on equal rights, and provides its citizens with autonomy and the means to pursue an active social and economic life. An accessible society means that most people will be able to seek employment, receive education and training, and pursue an active social and economic life. Accessibility should be seen as an investment, leading to increased production and higher productivity.
Accessibility is a concern for everyone, not only for people with disabilities. As the demographic changes lead towards an ageing population in Europe, accessibility should be taken into account across a wider range of policies than just disability policy. We need to make sure that products and the built environment are accessible to all, regardless of their ages, ability, or status in life. Universal design is already used with success but there are many areas in which it has not yet been adopted to any great extent.
This conference will focus on accessibility and participation for people with disabilities.
Anne-Mette Kjær Hesselager, Ministry of Social Affairs and Integration
Tel: +45 25 16 12 05, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anne Bækgaard, Ministry of Social Affairs and Integration
Tel: +45 25 16 12 02, email: email@example.com