The European Parliament’s Culture Committee voted today to remove Audiovisual Media Services including TV programmes and e-books from the European Accessibility Act meaning that they do not need to be accessible for persons with disabilities.
Stevens, rapporteur of the recently adopted European Parliament resolution on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, endorses a holistic approach to mainstreaming accessibility. The report, which was adopted in plenary last week by overwhelming majority, stressed the need for a comprehensive approach to accessibility and called for measures to guarantee that those with any type of disability can access all goods and services covered by the European Accessibility Act.
“Today’s vote in the Culture Committee of the European Parliament to exclude Audio Visual Media Services (AVMS) and digital books from the European Accessibility Act as well as the proposal of the European Commission to delete article 7 of the AVMS Directive in its revised text constitute a worrying and unprecedented attack on the rights of persons with disabilities. 80 million Europeans with disabilities are at risk of being deprived of their right to access TV programmes and digital books which means social exclusion, discrimination and a clear infringement of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)”, says Rodolfo Cattani, Secretary of the European Disability Forum (EDF).
Moreover, from an economic point of view mainstreaming accessibility makes sense: Subtitles for example benefit not only deaf and hard of hearing viewers, but also second language learners, older people, and even those wishing to watch programmes in a noisy environment.
The vote could potentially result in 80 million persons with disabilities in Europe not being able to access audiovisual services, such as television programmes, and digital books, which are particularly crucial for the blind and partially sighted.
Stevens: “Persons with disabilities must be able to access the same content as their non-disabled peers. What is the point of the TV set or a remote being accessible, if there is no TV programme for them to watch?”