European Conference on Growing together in a barrier-free Europe
On December 7 and 8, 2015, in Brussels, on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, a conference on the topic “Growing together in a barrier-free Europe” was held. The event was organized by the European Commission and the European Disability Forum. National Alliance for Social Responsibility (NASO) participated in the conference representing Bulgaria and the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD). The conference panels of discussion were primarily focused on children and youth with disabilities. Presentations on the current situation of children with disabilities in Europe, their accessibility to education and how the equal participation of disabled children and youth in society was influenced by an adequate inclusion in the labor market were made. Among the presenters were children with disabilities and their parents as well as organizations of persons with disabilities, staff members, academics and representatives of the Agency for Fundamental Rights, who presented a report on the violence against children with disabilities.
During the second day of the conference, the Accessible City 2016 awards were given. Milano, Italy, received the big prize. Wiesbaden, Germany, Toulouse, France, Vaasa, Finland, and Kaposvár, Hungary, were also awarded for their efforts to improve the accessibility of persons with disabilities as well as of elderly people. Milano was awarded for the excellent and constant work on securing accessibility and encouraging the employment of disabled persons as well as for supporting the independent community living not only in the past but up to the present day and also through ambitious plans for the future. The standards built do not only maintain the accessibility, but also encourage the universal design standards, the aim of which is to generate products and create spaces available for as large number of people as possible.
The conference itself is part of the EU efforts to involve the challenges of persons with disabilities in all sectors of politics in accordance to the European Disability Strategy 2010 -2020 and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted by the EU in January 2011. The topic on social inclusion of children and youth with disabilities is highly relevant for Bulgaria as well, and therefore, NASO will further provide access to the materials from the conference, translated in Bulgarian language and widely publicized.