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Belgian Disability Forum

European Disability Card

 

A real challenge

Accessibility of a location, facilities designed for persons with disabilities, conditions of use of goods and services … are often riddles for persons with disabilities who wish to go to a specific location. And, very often, when arriving on site, the person discovers that he or she will not have access to the offer available for the general public. And, if there is an offer developed to meet multiple needs, it does not mean that it is known. So, when in doubt, the person will not take the risk of making the trip. Therefore, access to information is also a real challenge.

 

The reality

Today, the European parking card is the only document proving the recognition of a disability. But the card is used – wrongly, but for lack of anything better – on many more occasions than just for parking on reserved spaces, in order to get a. o. reduced rates at the museum or the swimming pool, reserved seats at the theatre, etc.

 

What is the problem ?

When the European parking card is left behind the windscreen, it cannot be used at the ticket office of a cinema, for example! And if you take it with you, there is a major risk of fine or towing away.

 

THE Belgian solution …

In 2009, the BDF has launched a mobility card project based on 3 key principles : recognition of the person with disabilities by the country of origin, mutual recognition between countries of the European Union without further control, granting of the compensations for non-residents under the same conditions as for residents. For more details, European disability recognition card - Note BDF 2009-02-11.

 

That has been adopted by Europe !

The Belgian project worked its way in the European corridors. It was widely supported by the EDF and, in the end, was accepted by the European Commission, so much so that it has become one of the key pillars of its accessibility plan for the next few years.

This is why, in July 2015, the Commission launched a call for projects to the 17 potential candidate countries in the development of the card in the areas of leisure, culture and sports. In the end, 8 countries submitted an application and were chosen. These countries are : Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Malta, Slovenia, Romania. A European funding has been granted to them to develop a. o. the card and a network of operators, a national information site for operators and users, an awareness campaign. The schedule is tight because the card should be implemented on 31 March 2017.

For the sake of concrete illustration, in the long run, a person with disabilities travelling to Rome will have access to the Roman historical sites under the same conditions as an Italian national. Similarly, a Finnish citizen wishing to visit a federal museum in Brussels will benefit from the reduced rate and from a guided tour adapted to his needs.

As far as Belgium is concerned, a steering committee of representatives of the FPS Social Security, the AVIQ, the VAPH, PHARE and the DPB will develop the project, while integrating the advisory councils, where they exist, to the strategic stages of the concrete implementation.

The BDF will ensure that regular information on the progress of the project is relayed. To be continued ….

 

One step further towards the implementation (10/10/2016)

On 10 October 2016, the competent Ministers of the Federal Government and of the Governments of the Federated Entities have signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the implementation of the “European Disability Card”. If the schedule is respected, this should allow the launch of the card by the end of the first semester of 2017.

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