On 30th of April, European Parliament’s Disability Intergroup organized the conference called “Impact of COVID-19 outbreak to persons with disabilities”. As the title says, the event was dedicated to consideration about current situation of people with disabilities at the time of world crisis related to COVID-19 pandemic.
The conference was opened by MEPs Ádám Kósa and Brando Benifei. They briefly explained how the event will look like and which subjects will be discussed. At the event was present EU Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli as well.
The most often raising issue was the decreasing priority of people with disabilities in the period of COVID-19 outbreak in Europe. At this moment all governments are focused at other fields of policy. We cannot forget about the people who need support every time and now they need that more than at any moment. As everyone knows, currently many of services are moved to the internet, so all of these should be accessible for disabled people as well. The same problem we can find in education area, cause most of the lectures are led on-line and so, all the universities and schools should pay attention to the persons who need special help as: sign language or audio description for visually impaired people.
From the speech of Helena Dalli, EU Commissioner of Equality, we got to know that EU prepared the funds to support disabled people, but how they will be distributed depends of national’s governments. Though she emphasized that there should spend these sources to health insurance and protection of organization which works for disabled people. It also announced an open dialogue with all organizations and people with disabilities in order to coordinate activities so that the crisis would not be too severe. Besides, there were MEPs who declared the aid and protection of disabled people rights in this period, among others, MEP Dragos Pislaru who supported our « VIP Tech Job » project official launching last December.
The considerations were also concentrated around «post-covid» period, because we still do not know when the pandemic will be finished and how our lives will look like. Though certain is that the reality will be absolutely different than this which we may recall from the time before outbreak but how it was said, now we should keep focusing at current situation, issues and needs.
Finally, the conference wrapped-up with questions session and follow up. We have heard many information about the plans of EU Parliament and EU Commission, how to support the people with disabilities in Europe at this difficult period. It’s really important not to forget about disabled people during the time of pandemic, because ordinary times are challenging and now it’s more complicated than usual. We hope that the situation will go better in near future but now we are obliged to unite and mutual support.
Reporting for you, Kuba (ESC volunteer)