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As part of our Debating Europe Schools project, and in cooperation with our partners at the European Disability Forum and the European Union of the Deaf, today we want to look at some of the issues surrounding disability, discrimination and accessibility in European society.

One in six people in the EU today lives with a disability. Despite this, people with disabilities are one of the most excluded groups in Europe, facing huge difficulties with mobility and access to education, healthcare and other services.

The EU treaties guarantee the fundamental right to freedom of movement across borders. All European citizens have the right to move, work, study, and provide or receive goods and services in any other EU Member State. However, many Europeans with disabilities aren’t able to enjoy these rights.

Whilst we talk a lot about “European values” on Debating Europe, the European Disability Forum says: “The free movement of persons in the European Union is just an ideal for us, because most of the time barriers prevent us from leaving [our own homes].

Recently, we were sent some video questions recorded by students at the Stefan Decanski school for the hearing impaired in Belgrade, Serbia (a country which is currently negotiating membership of the European Union). You can find the second part here.

We took their questions to David Hay from the European Union of the Deaf, Aurélie Baranger, Director of Autism Europe, and Ádám Kósa, a Hungarian politician and the first MEP to use Deaf Sign Language in the European Parliament.

  • Is enough being done to support hearing impaired people in learning sign language?

Our first question came from Marko and Nataša, who wanted to know if enough was being done across Europe to support hearing impaired people in learning sign language.

We put this question to David Hay from the European Union of the Deaf. How would he respond?

David Hay says the situation varies drastically between countries. However, all countries agree there is a serious shortage of sign language interpreters in Europe.

We also spoke with Ádám Kósa, the first deaf MEP from Hungary. What would he say?

Kósa agreed with David Hay that the level of support is different from country to country, with some schools struggling to cope with the number of pupils while others deliver an excellent level of education. In his own country, Hungary, he explained that hearing impaired students must, by law, be taught sign language first before learning spoken and written communication.

  • Are people with disabilities properly integrated into mainstream education systems in the EU?

Our next question came from  Marko and Ljubica, who wanted to know whether children with special needs were being included in the mainstream education system in EU countries. We put this question to Aurélie Baranger, Director of Autism Europe. How would she respond?

We put the same question to Ádám Kósa. What would he say to Marko and Ljubica?

Is enough being done to guarantee people with disabilities have access to education systems in the EU? Should more effort be made to integrate students with disabilities into mainstream education systems? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

You can find the second part here.



12 comments Post a commentcomment


  1. Loris Gatti

    I said I shuld eb I am better or at least no worst than any of the priviledge ones

  2. Mirko Celii

    Visit Greece and count how many healty people have not acces to education because of austerity imposed by the troika.

  3. Hilde Buys

    Well, that’s indeed a debate … absolutely NOT in Denmark. No atter the Ministry of Education believes we are parents that have children fighting for basic reading and writing skills. Children with disabilies end up in social services with parents not being allowed to have them evaluated by neurologist/ psykiatrists or when they are evaluated it’s after a traumatic family seperation where the child has RAD due to being taken with no warning and not being allowed to see their home or family for years. The stats are too high for simple dyslexia not remediated and inklusion not practised other that one on one give by uneducated staff or worse case no services can be expected before the child refuses to go to school. Kids in foster care have a few more laws, yet they stand out at 70% not getting any high school exam …. sadly more and ore children with disabilities are being treated with holding or isolation and even segregated for years without age peers ect. And if you homeschool you are only able to with a lawyers help or living in the right area – the unicipality does not do the legal required testing / counselign they reove the children and then the children go for years before getting any schooling (the law states 14 days … but procedure is a year per case and then it’s in a school that does not live up to main stream levels)

    So oney does not improve services … education is an importand part of a society and people offer cheaper solutions that turn out to be the costly solution ever bought. Basically, inklusion is being rolled out but nobody prepared the teachers … that costs to “rewrite” their jobs since children wsith learning probles and disability have been put into special schools for years regardless their abilities UNLESS the parents were either lucky or could afford lawyers.

  4. Jemina Napier

    Encourage the European Commission to fund the @insignproject for deaf people to access EU institutions on an ongoing basis once the pilot has finished!

  5. Jaume Roqueta

    maybe not… better in european stile… make a company with your friends, get a big budget from European Comission, take the 50% for you and the other 50% to people with siabilities…maybe not to them directly, maybe better to contract other people from your company to help them!… yes..like this probably works.

  6. Lulzim Kazazi

    We give only 2% of what we can give …let’s do it more and more ! You don’t no never, maeby tomorow we can be part of them !?!

  7. Miriam Binder

    The rights of disabled people, young and old, are impacted by more then merely an unequal access to education.

  8. Paulina Gutkowska

    Welcome. I am of Polish. Agree who is not the lack of a sign language interpreter for studies and study. My dreamed up with, I would like to teach the freezer for post-secondary study, but missing me a sign language interpreter. I do not understand what they say. Nervous without an interpreter. Difficult is the can not arrange for an interpreter only need to pay cost as much as adults do not have the money.

  9. Roland Billy

    Write your message…
    am Roland from Ghana, I think caring for people with disability is good and I will encourage us all to help do that. Discrimination ,when it comes to the people living with disability is sometimes very high and bad, we should get them close and spend quality time with them. We can also be one of them . We should know that, Disability is NOT Inability. thank you.

  10. Jenny Hughes

    I thought this was titled ‘How can the EU better guarantee the rights of people with disabilities?’ But you’ve only put stuff up about kids and hearing loss – or have I missed the rest?

    Our rights (as disabled people) don’t exist unless we have a way to enforce them, which we don’t. And my ‘invisible’ disability (acquired brain injury) is discriminated against everywhere = can’t be by accident, if so chuck out governments’ experts and advisors who failed so miserably.

    Disabled people already suffer barriers everywhere and exclusion but those of us with brain injury are excluded from so much more than just the physical/built environment – it affects every facet of our lives.

    Let’s see the EU discussing US and OUR needs please, way past time. Thanks.

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