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EU solicits public opinions on helping disabled Europeans


09:26, December 14, 2011

BRUSSELS, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- The European Commission on Tuesday started seeking public opinions on future measures for breaking down barriers to Europeans with disabilities, as part of its preparation for a European Accessibility Act to be proposed in the autumn of 2012.

The intended act aims to ensure that people with disabilities will have access to the physical environment, transportation, information and communication services, on an equal basis with others.

The consultation that plans to gather views from businesses, people with disabilities and the general public will remain open until the end of February 2012, according to the commission.

"Accessibility is about breaking down barriers to disabled people in buildings, transport and online. Improving access also makes life easier for older people, parents with small children and many others," European Union (EU) justice commissioner Viviane Reding said here on Tuesday.

"Making goods and services more accessible is also about creating market opportunities and can be a stimulus for innovation and growth," she added.

According to a recent study in Germany, more accessible facilities will increase travel by persons with disabilities, yielding between 620 million and 1.9 billion euros (about 811 million to 2.48 billion U.S. dollars ) in additional turnover for the German tourism industry.

The commission, the EU's executive arm, adopted a strategy last year to create a barrier-free Europe for disabled people by 2020, including the accessibility initiative.

About 80 million Europeans, or one in six, have difficulty to use public facilities or services due to some kind of disability that ranges from mild to severe levels, and over one third of people aged over 75 have disabilities.

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