Disability: people with disabilities as sustainable investments – revolutionary steps for handling challenges of ageing Europe.

"Inclusion of the 80 million people with disabilities in the European Union is of the utmost importance for handling and creating a more active and sustainable ageing society in Europe. Their social and labour market inclusion offers a previously-neglected opportunity for meeting Europe's future workforce needs. People with disabilities and older people could be the real answer to the general shortage in the active and working population", highlighted Ádám Kósa MEP on the adoption of his Report on the mobility and inclusion of people with disabilities and the EU Disability Strategy 2010-2020. The Report aims to introduce a revolutionary approach to disability, promotes barrier-free accessibility, special communication techniques for the deaf and the hard-of-hearing, and proposes a new pattern of inclusive education systems.

Due to limited mobility and communications solutions, people with disabilities are often unable to find educational, training or job opportunities that fulfil their needs. In this regard, in his speech, Ádám Kósa drew attention to a recent US study, which shows that 2/3 of people with disabilities in the US could be provided with sound and reasonable accommodation to the value of maximum $500 which nowadays means the average price of a good Smartphone or an iPhone. On the other hand, the inclusion of people with disabilities would also provide an indispensable contribution to the near future needs of the European labour market as a result of the retiring millions of the baby-boom generation.

Based on this, the document aims to introduce a revolutionary approach to disability. It promotes barrier-free accessibility; special communication techniques for the deaf and hard-of-hearing as well as the blind and proposes new patterns and obligations for inclusive education systems with stronger support for parents of children with disabilities, with emphasis on the importance of the early recognition of special needs. A lot of unique proposals have also been introduced in the Report like a new approach to car-modification production for wheelchair users; finding solutions for the blind to handle electronic interfaces; EU-based and organised information desks for parents with disabled children in order to help and educate them to cope with the challenges that people with disabilities face every day.

According to the only deaf MEP in the European Parliament, it is also important to have legal instruments and measures for the protection of people with disabilities at a European level. As the European Council has been blocking the so-called general Anti-discrimination Directive for several years, the EPP Group proposal wished to empower the Commission to ensure the anti-discrimination of people with disabilities in the European Accessibility Act, to be presented next year. As the left-wing and liberal groups of the EP rejected this proposal, resolving anti-discrimination of people with disabilities could be halted for a long time to come. "As there is little hope of having the horizontal Anti-discrimination Directive adopted in the Council in the foreseeable future, the voting down of the EPP Group's amendment is regrettable as it prevents promoting a considerably faster process aimed at improving the situation of people with disabilities", said Mr Kósa.

Mr Kósa hopes that by the end of 2012, the European Accessibility Act will fulfil all the requests and recommendations of the Report, thus it will provide the opportunity for the inclusion of people with disabilities and revitalise the European labour market.

In Focus: Social inclusion of people with disabilities: a sustainable investment