Rights of People with Intellectual Disabilities

There are more than 7 million people with intellectual disabilities in Europe. They face many barriers when they want to participate in society, be included in the community and make their voices heard.

These barriers include legal barriers such as deprivation of legal capacity which prevents people with intellectual disabilities from making decisions about their own life. They are denied equal access to justice; they cannot take part in elections; they cannot sign a contract or open a bank account; they cannot make health-related or reproductive decisions and they cannot get married.

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Accessibility

Background

People with intellectual disabilities face significant challenges in accessing public goods and services as well as information in the EU. The lack of easy-to-read information and usability standards for persons with intellectual disabilities presents one of the greatest barriers to their full participation as European citizens.

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Recent developments

Inclusion Europe has been advocating for the adoption of the European Accessibility Act in the past years, and answered the Commission’s online public consultation in 2012. During the year-long review of the EU in front of the CRPD Committee, Inclusion Europe’s advocacy campaign has persistently called for the adoption of the European Accessibility Act.

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What still needs to be done

MEPs adopt a strong European Accessibility Act to ensure that people with disabilities can access product it services:
• To define a wider scope, including a compulsory clause on the accessibility of the built environment.
• The obligation for all businesses, regardless of their size to deliver accessible services and products.

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Legal capacity

Background

In many countries, people with intellectual disabilities remain the last group of people denied legal capacity (together with people with mental health problems).

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Recent developments

The European Union does not have a direct competence in the area of legal capacity, however, many legal binding documents including the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 highlight the crucial importance of article 12 in the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognising that all people with disabilities are equal before the law. It means that they should enjoy as well as exercise their legal capacity.

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What still needs to be done

More action is needed, including more commitment and engagement of the Members States on issues such as access to justice, goods and services, including banking, employment and health care, as well as voting and consumer rights:

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Right to vote

Background

People with intellectual disabilities cannot equally participate as full citizens in Europe because of different factors. The first of is the deprivation of legal capacity that also prevent them from voting. The second is the lack of accessibility of the electoral process: from the campaign and the manifestos of candidates to registering to vote.

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Recent developments

In 2015 the United Nations Committee on the Rights of People with Disabilities examined the European Union and its commitment to ensuring the rights of people with disabilities. Within the committee’s concluding observations they made these statements regarding the right to vote:

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What still needs to be done

• Gather more specific data in Europe on people who have been deprived from their voting rights, include those who live in institutions.
• Create a European guidelines on accessible elections to provide different actors involved in the electoral process

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Want to read more? Take a look at:

– Position Paper about proposal on initial proposal for a European Accessibility Act
– Guidelines for Involving People with Intellectual Disabilities in Policy Consultations
– European disability strategy 2010-2020
– Report on the implementation of the European Disability Strategy (2010-2020)
– Concluding Observations of EU by the CRPD Committee