World Congress

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Disabilities and ICT. The European Parliament ignores the proposals of Luca Coscioni Association

09/30/2008

On September, 24 the European Parliament in its plenary session in Brussels rejected definitively all the amendments that the Luca Coscioni Association had suggested in order to improve the access to telecommunications regarding people with disabilities. None of our proposals has been accepted, after two years of work around the international meeting in Milan – in this period we have replied to informal consultations, participated actively to the institutional proceeding for the revision of the so-called "Telecom Package" , which sets up the basis for the establishment of a European TLC market by determining limits and rules. "Many chances to empower immediately and in a binding way the inclusion of people with disabilities are been lost: for example, this decision rejected our suggestions to create a series of duties for TV network corporations to approach public service and current affairs programmes with services aimed at empowering the possibility of people with disabilities to access information, such as teletext, subtitles, audio description of the images or sign language", said Marco Cappato about the abstention from the vote of radical MEPs. The service provider will not even bear the duty to communicate information on the quality of the services offered and the mechanisms adopted to assure the equivalent access to the users with disabilities. It seems that the European Parliament did not want to strongly defend this category of rights, although some positive innovation has to be highlighted (for example, the accessibility to European emergency number 112). Moreover, many doubts remain about Internet freedom and the guarantee of fundamental rights of expression of its users: on the one hand, the amendments 138 and 166 "guarantee that any eventual restrictions to the rights of the users to access content, services and applications be necessary, proportioned and implemented through adequate measures, by applying the principle in which no restrictions be imposed on the rights and liberties of the final users"; on the other hand, we are afraid of a growing militarisation of the internet as new surveillance structures – even based on the filtering of the internet – could be created. For this reason, we opted for the abstention in the final vote, by dissenting from the Liberal group about many crucial amendments.

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