Promoting accessibility for disabled people using EU standardisation policy

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Series Details Vol.42, No.2, April 2017, p145-165
Publication Date April 2017
ISSN 0307-5400
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Increased accessibility to products and services, and to the European physical environment, is critical if disabled people are to participate as equals in their communities. Even though the scope for action at EU level is limited by the competences conferred on the Union, with the Member States retaining the lion’s share of responsibility and authority in this area, the EU’s wide-ranging disability policy aims to make a transformative contribution to the achievement of equality for disabled people. One of the Commission’s key instruments in pursuit of this objective is standardisation policy.

This article begins with an overview of the EU’s disability strategy with a focus on accessibility rights. Then European standards policy is examined with particular attention to the legal basis for the policy and concerns related to democratic control of private standardisation bodies. The article then looks at how standardisation policy is being used in pursuit of improved accessibility and its essential role in the recently proposed European Accessibility Act. Lastly, some comments on the potential for the use of European standards to improve accessibility for disabled people are offered.

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Sweet and Maxwell: European Law Review

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