This article is part of our special report European Accessibility Act.
The European Accessibility Act has the potential to create new opportunities for European business but should avoid creating “barriers” to innovation, according to Helga Stevens, Vice-Chairwoman of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European Parliament.
Helga Stevens is a Belgian MEP from the N-VA party, affiliated to the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) in the European Parliament. She is the rapporteur on the recently adopted European Parliament resolution on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Speaking to EURACTIV.com through a sign language interpreter, Stevens stressed that excluding disabled people causes extra cost for society – and that inclusion, on the contrary, benefits everyone.
“When you exclude 15% of the population, that ultimately does cost us money because we need to provide separate goods and services,” she explained, adding that a functional approach is needed that will not tell the industry how to achieve the ultimate aims.
Stevens described the Act as a “win-win” situation for all, because if people with disabilities are included, that will create opportunities for businesses to provide more goods and services.
“People with disabilities will have access to these and if you look at the US Accessibility Act. You can see that it does benefit everyone in the society because people with disabilities are no longer excluded and are able to participate in the society,” she stressed.