Many individuals in today’s world are still facing continuous challenges and obstacles which are difficult, sometimes impossible, to overcome. Too many citizens lack opportunities and many times this derives directly from the lack of accessibility to opportunities available to some and not to others. Discrimination still plays an important role in our society and this effects millions of lives.
On Friday, 24th November, 2017, MEP Marlene Mizzi hosted the public conference Accessibility Without Discrimination, supported by the S&D group in the European Parliament. Accessibility Without Discrimination was organised with the assistance of the Malta Communications Authority (MCA) and the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). A variety of stakeholders, government policymakers and civil society organisations attended and participated in the conference.
The aim of Accessibility Without Discrimination was to create and amplify awareness about the importance of accessibility in the everyday life of millions of individuals, especially for people with disabilities.
MEP Marlene Mizzi said that many people in our society are still discriminated. She mentioned her work in various committees and group and the European Parliament’s work on accessibility. Mizzi emphasized that politicians have to protect every person’s rights and make sure that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone.
Hon. Anthony Agius Decelis, Parliamentary Secretary for Persons with Disability and Active Ageing, and Hon. Silvio Schembri, Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation, highlighted the progress made on accessibility and the government’s future plans to improve the lives and give more independence to people with disabilities.
Oliver Scicluna, Commissioner for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, explained the difficulties faced daily by these peopleand how most of them find it hard to find a job because of their disability.
Siobhan Long from Enable Ireland, a non-profit state-funded organisation that provides free services to children and adults with disabilities and their families in Ireland, gave a very informative presentation and explained how technology can help so many lives to the better.
Vickie Gauci, an Occupational Therapist studying at the University of Leeds, made a presentation on disability activism, assistive technology and universal design and made an interesting presentation on “Enable technology and employment of disabled people in Malta”.
Clifford Protelli, Assistant Manager at CRPD services, spoke about his personal experience as a person with disabilities and explained what he went through and, even though it wasn’t easy, how he managed to succeed in his professional life.Aimee Cassar, Assistant HR Manager at KMPG Crimsonwing (Malta) Ltd, explained the advantages of employing people with disabilities and how her company managed to become more accessible.
It was agreed that although a lot is being done already, both on national and European level, it is definitely not enough.
“We all deserve equal opportunities. We have to work hard to open wide the door of opportunity for everyone, for every single member of our society, for every individual and I hope that this conference will be another step towards a fairer society,” concluded MEP Marlene Mizzi at in her closing remarks.