COUNCIL OF EUROPE
COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS
towards full citizenship of persons with disabilities through inclusive new technologies
(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers
on 24 October 2001
at the 770th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)
The Committee of Ministers, in its composition restricted to the Representatives of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, member states of the Partial Agreement in the Social and Public Health Field,
Recalling Resolution (59) 23 of 16 November 1959 on the extension of the activities of the Council of Europe in the social and cultural fields;
Having regard to Resolution (96) 35 of 2 October 1996, whereby it revised the structures of the Partial Agreement and resolved to continue, on the basis of revised rules replacing those set out in Resolution (59) 23, the activities hitherto carried out and developed by virtue of that resolution; these being particularly aimed at:
a. raising the level of health protection of consumers in its widest sense, including a constant contribution to harmonising – in the field of products having a direct or indirect impact on the human food chain as well as in the field of pesticides, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics – legislation, regulations and practice governing, on the one hand, quality, efficiency and safety controls for products and, on the other hand, the safe use of toxic or noxious products;
b. integrating people with disabilities into the community: defining and contributing to the implementation at European level of a model of coherent policy for people with disabilities taking into account the principles of full citizenship and of independent living; contributing to the elimination of all barriers to integration, whether psychological, educational, family-related, cultural, social, professional, financial or architectural;
Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of facilitating their economic and social progress;
Bearing in mind the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and in particular the right to receive and impart information (Article 10);
Bearing in mind the principles embodied in the revised European Social Charter, namely the right of persons with disabilities to independence, social integration and participation in the life of the community, in particular through measures aiming to overcome barriers to communication and mobility and enabling access to transport, housing, cultural activities and leisure (Article 15, paragraph 3);
Bearing in mind Recommendation No. R (92) 6 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on a coherent policy for people with disabilities;
Bearing in mind Recommendation No. R (98) 3 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on access to higher education;
Bearing in mind Recommendation No. R (98) 9 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on dependence;
Bearing in mind Recommendation No. R (99) 14 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on universal community service concerning new communication and information services;
Bearing in mind the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on a European policy for new information technologies, Budapest, 7 May 1999;
Bearing in mind Resolution ResAP(2001)1 on the introduction of the principles of universal design into the curricula of all occupations working on the built environment;
Bearing in mind Recommendation 1185 (1992) of the Parliamentary Assembly on rehabilitation policies for the disabled;
Bearing in mind Resolution 1120 (1997) of the Parliamentary Assembly on the impact of the new communication and information technologies on democracy;
Bearing in mind Recommendation 1314 (1997) of the Parliamentary Assembly on new technologies and employment;
Bearing in mind Recommendation 1332 (1997) of the Parliamentary Assembly on the scientific and technical aspects of the new information and communication technologies;
Bearing in mind Recommendation 1379 (1998) of the Parliamentary Assembly on basic education in science and technology;
Bearing in mind Resolution 1191 (1999) of the Parliamentary Assembly on the information society and a digital world;
Bearing in mind Resolution 1233 (2000) of the Parliamentary Assembly on the impact of new technologies on labour legislation;
Bearing in mind Recommendation 54 (1999) and Resolution 76 (1999) of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe on local and regional information society;
Having regard to the United Nations Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities;
Having regard to the activities of international organisations active in the field of standardisation, such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI);
Having regard to the Resolution of the Council of the European Union and of the representatives of the governments of the member states meeting within the Council of 20 December 1996 on equality of opportunity for people with disabilities;
Having regard to the Action Plan “eEurope 2002 – An Information Society for All”, adopted by the European Council at Santa Maria da Feira, Portugal, on 19-20 June 2000;
Having regard to other international initiatives and projects, such as Heart, Promise, Cost 219, Cost 219bis, Fortune, the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), Include, Ipsni and Ipsni II/Race, Guib and Guib II/Tide, Tide-Access and Acts-Avanti;
Having regard to the “European Manifesto on the Information Society and Disabled People” drawn up by the European Disability Forum (EDF) in 1999;
Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe can be pursued, inter alia, by the adoption of common legislation and practice conducive to the creation of a society for all;
Considering that the estimated number of persons with disabilities in Europe is 10-15% of the population and that the number of elderly and disabled persons is continually growing;
Considering that failure to promote the rights of persons with disabilities and ensure equality of opportunities is a violation of human dignity;
Considering that, despite recent achievements in integration policies, many persons with disabilities in Europe still feel discriminated against;
Considering that the lack of equal opportunities for members of all groups in society poses a threat to securing democracy and social cohesion;
Considering the impact of technologies on the quality of life of persons with disabilities;
Considering that, in particular, the rapid changes in information technology can enhance opportunities on the one hand and create new obstacles on the other;
Considering that the Design for All strategy has a key role to play in the creation of inclusive societies and should therefore be incorporated into all levels of the design process of goods and services;
Considering that globalisation requires intensified international co-operation, particularly in the technology field;
Acknowledging the work carried out in the field of disability policies by the Council of Europe's Committee on the Rehabilitation and Integration of People with disabilities and its subordinate body, the Committee of experts on the impact of new technologies on the quality of life of persons with disabilities;
Convinced of the urgent need to draw up and implement national strategies to provide the basis for a concerted effort concerning new technologies to secure full and active participation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society,
Recommends that the governments of the member states of the Partial Agreement in the Social and Public Health Field, having due regard to their specific constitutional structures, national, regional or local circumstances, as well as economic, social and technical conditions:
a. draw up and implement, in the priority policy areas, national strategies that apply in their policy, legislation and practice the general and specific principles as well as the instruments set out in the appendix to this resolution;
b. promote the implementation and take steps towards the application of the principles and measures contained in the appendix, in fields where these are not the direct responsibility of governments but where public authorities have a certain power or play a role;
c. ensure the widest possible dissemination of this resolution among all parties concerned, particularly public authorities, industry, consumer associations, non-governmental organisations and users as well as other international organisations;
d. follow up the implementation of the provisions contained in the appendix by all appropriate means.
Appendix to Resolution ResAP(2001)3
1. National strategies
A national strategy should be drawn up, consisting of a co-ordinated set of measures or instruments such as action plans, to ensure that persons with disabilities benefit from the opportunities of new technologies, to avoid the risk of exclusion and to evaluate the impact of new technologies on the quality of life of persons with disabilities.
In this context all existing and future action plans, and in particular all action plans in key policy areas relating to new technologies, should be reviewed from a disability perspective to ensure compliance with these recommendations and should take account of the specific requirements of people with different kinds of functional limitations.
Co-ordination and co-operation are prerequisites to the development of any strategy.
2. General principles
Any coherent and global policy should aim at guaranteeing to all individuals full citizenship, equality of opportunity, independent living, freedom of choice, as well as full and active participation in all areas of community life.
Since in today’s society the possibility of accessing and using technology applications is a prerequisite to achieving the aforementioned aims, it is the responsibility and duty of society to ensure equal access to technology applications for everyone, irrespective of age, gender or ability. To ensure equal chances of full and active participation in the life of the community, everyone should be able to benefit from technology applications and to access and use them as independently and as equally to others as possible, even though specific modifications or solutions might be required sometimes.
Through a co-ordinated set of measures, people of all ages and abilities should be enabled to have as much personal autonomy and independence as possible, so that they can play a full role in society and take part in economic, social, cultural, leisure and recreational activities.
Mainstreaming, Design for All and user involvement should be guiding principles in all the public authorities’ policy areas.
3. Specific principles
The following specific principles and the responses to the leading questions will play a decisive role in determining whether persons with disabilities will benefit from the manifold opportunities that new technologies can offer, or whether they will be excluded from that potential by newly-created obstacles.
These specific principles and leading questions should be applied now and in future to all products, general services, systems and assistive technology for persons with disabilities in all spheres of life. Policy areas of particular importance are children and education, vocational guidance and training, employment, social integration and environment, the medical field, research and development and training of persons involved in the rehabilitation and integration process of people with disabilities.
3.1. Availability – Does it exist? Is it obtainable?
Products and services should be available to all potential users, including persons with disabilities, and be provided where required with additional equipment (such as special interfaces) or an equivalent alternative (such as personal assistance).
Assistive technology should be available to persons with disabilities who need it.
The user perspective: “How and where can I get it?” should be taken into account.
3.2. Accessibility – Is it reachable, approachable, convenient?
In accordance with the guiding principle of Design for All, the requirements of persons with disabilities should be taken into account in the design and application of all products and services.
Where this is not possible, persons with disabilities should be able to access the product or service by means of additional equipment, or an equivalent alternative should be offered.
The user perspective: “Can I get in touch with it?” should be taken into account.
3.3. Ease of use – Is it functional, practical, understandable, user-friendly and applicable?
Products and services aimed at the general public should be designed in such a way that all people, irrespective of whether or not they have a disability, can use them.
User instructions should be easy to understand and follow.
Training in the use of new technologies should be available to all potential users who require it.
The user perspective: “Can I use it?” should be taken into account.
3.4. Affordability – Can the expense be met?
Products and services should be available at equivalent prices to all people.
Extra costs in providing access to products and services should not be borne by persons with disabilities.
Governments should take all possible measures to ensure that financial circumstances do not exclude persons with disabilities from the benefits of new technologies, adaptations and assistive technology.
Products and services that are available for a “niche” market and are expensive should be made affordable to persons with disabilities when they depend on these products or services, at a price equivalent to a commonly used product or service.
The user perspective: “Can I afford it?” should be taken into account.
3.5. Awareness – Is its existence known to users and stakeholders?
Decision-makers in politics, industry, employment, education, health and rehabilitation services should be made aware of the needs of persons with disabilities and the ways in which these needs can be accommodated with the help of new technologies.
Product and service providers should be made aware of the requirements of persons with disabilities and the solutions made available to them by new technologies.
Designers of products and services should be more aware of the requirements of persons with disabilities, for example different ways of communicating and accessing information, so that they can take them into account at an early stage.
Potential users should be familiarised with the existence, possibilities and opportunities offered by new technology applications.
The user perspective: “Do I know of its existence and potential?” should be taken into account.
3.6. Appropriateness and attractiveness – Is it suitable, fitting, and appealing?
Products and services should be functional, age-appropriate and aesthetically pleasing, particularly for children, adolescents and elderly users, without features that unnecessarily complicate their use and potentially increase their cost.
Product design should also take account of different lifestyles.
Simplified versions of products and services should be available.
The user perspective: “Does it suit my needs? Does it do what I want? Do I like the look of it?” should be taken into account.
3.7. Adaptability – Is it adjustable?
Products and services should be adaptable to the user’s functional limitations and individual circumstances. This may be achieved through the availability of different product versions, alterations to key functionalities, modular design, auxiliary appliances or other means.
The user perspective: “Can it be altered to suit my needs?” should be taken into account.
3.8. Compatibility – Can it be used together with other relevant products?
New products should be compatible with existing products used by persons with disabilities, including assistive technology devices.
Several aspects of compatibility should be taken into account, for example hardware and software, mechanical and electrical properties, as well as the avoidance of electromagnetic interference.
The compatibility of products should be guaranteed in these aspects.
The user perspective: “Can I use it together with the technical aids I already rely on?” should be taken into account.
4. Priority policy areas
In drawing up national strategies governments should, with due respect to national priorities, pay particular attention to the following specific recommendations for priority policy areas.
New technologies in education should be adapted to the needs of all learners, including those with special educational needs.
Learners with disabilities should be provided with the assistive technology devices and the services they need, and these should be included in individualised education programmes.
Training in the use of such devices is an essential component and should be provided for both learners and teachers.
New assistive technologies should be used pro-actively to facilitate integrated education, enabling learners with disabilities to be educated in normal surroundings along with their peers.
Since some learners, particularly those with learning difficulties, often have less access to assistive technology than others, special efforts should be made to ensure that they have access to appropriate technology and receive adequate instruction and support to use it.
The development and use of new special educational hardware and software for the education of learners with disabilities should be encouraged.
Given that all educational staff should be trained in the use of new technologies, in particular information and communication technologies, for educational purposes, due attention should be paid to the special educational needs of learners with disabilities in such training.
4.2. Vocational guidance and training
New technologies should form an integral part of all vocational training for trainees with disabilities, leading to enhanced competencies and qualifications enabling trainees to access further training and education programmes as well as employment opportunities.
Supporting trainees with disabilities in the use of new technologies should be an integral part of all pre-vocational and vocational training programmes.
Trainers should keep abreast of changes in new technologies and provide training programmes that are flexible and adaptable in order to meet the changing demands of the work place now and in the future.
The transition from the world of education and training to the world of work should be supported by:
– Job placements for trainees in work situations which already use new technologies;
– Facilitating the transfer of assistive and adapted technologies used by the trainees with disabilities in education and training to their place of employment. Particularly in cases where an individual has become familiar in the use of such devices, the assistive technology devices should, where necessary and appropriate, accompany him or her in the transfer from education and training to work.
New technologies should be used to enable persons with disabilities to gain or maintain employment and develop a lifetime career.
New technologies should be systematically applied in the work environment to provide workplace adaptations, access to training, flexible working arrangements (for example telework), appropriate equipment and accessible facilities.
Public funds or benefits and professional support services should be available to employers and employees to facilitate these actions.
In sheltered employment, new technologies should be used for job enrichment and to increase working opportunities for persons with disabilities and to provide the basis for enhancing the transition into the regular labour market.
The dissemination of disability-related technologies and relevant know-how about the possibilities of new technologies in the workplace should be a key priority and be combined with awareness-raising campaigns amongst employers.
4.4. Social integration and environment
Persons with disabilities and their families should be provided with the technology and services they need to enhance autonomy and flexibility and to enable them to live as independently as possible, if they so wish, and to engage in economic, social, cultural, sports, and leisure activities.
Technical household, mobility or communication aids should be available to everyone in need of them.
New technologies should be used pro-actively to improve the accessibility and usability of the built environment, such as lifetime-adaptable dwellings, “smart-house” technology, robotics, domotics, alarm and surveillance systems.
Since technology is increasingly used in all manner of private and public transport, new technologies should be used to meet the requirements of all persons, including persons with disabilities.
Since the availability of information is a prerequisite for full citizenship and active participation, persons with disabilities should have the choice of using appropriate means of communication, for example in the field of telecommunications.
When different distribution channels are used for information, the same information should be available irrespective of which distribution channels are used.
Additional funding for the use of new distribution channels should be provided for those who cannot use traditional distribution channels. The channels should be comparable in all relevant aspects.
Since new technologies are also used in the distribution of consumer goods and services, (teleshopping, telebanking, etc.) adaptations should be made to ensure use by persons with disabilities.
4.5. Training of stakeholders
All persons whose professional or other duties require them to act in areas of direct or indirect relevance to the rehabilitation and integration of persons with disabilities should receive training in the use and impact of new technologies, including appropriate assistive technology, with a view to applying the general and specific principles set out in this resolution.
Such training should cover all phases, such as initial (vocational) and further training as well as re-training, and be an integral part of continuing professional development.
Particular attention should be paid to the training of people working in the health sector, including both medical and non-medical staff: education and training, vocational guidance and employment placement, social services, transport, sports and leisure, the built environment as well as information and communication technologies.
Designers and manufacturers, engineers and technicians dealing with consumer goods, and in particular assistive technology, should obtain training on the Design for All strategy and on the specific requirements of persons with disabilities.
In order to comply with the principles set out in this resolution, the curricula of all relevant professions and vocations should be revised.
Organisations of and for persons with disabilities, as well as families, friends and informal carers should be offered training courses or supported in attending them, on such subjects as selection of appropriate technology or computer literacy.
4.6. Prevention, identification and diagnosis
The use of new technologies should be optimised to help prevent congenital impairment by improved methods and services of screening, scanning and diagnostics, including prenatal genetic testing, and should be carried out in compliance with ethical principles.
Action should be taken to maximise the use of existing technologies and to plan the development of new technologies for the diagnosis, assessment and follow-up of sensorial, physical and cognitive impairments.
4.7. Medical rehabilitation
Since chronic conditions and degenerative diseases pose major health threats to the individual, competent medical treatment, assistance and care, making use of suitable technology, should be available.
Clients, relatives and other carers should be able to make an informed choice of treatment, assistance or care, including the use of specific technologies.
New technologies should be used to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of personal care in accordance with the user’s requirements and preferences.
Any medical and functional rehabilitation programme should include full provision of the choice, supply and use of appropriate assistive technology devices including their adjustment, maintenance and replacement. Training in the use of the devices should be available to all persons requiring it.
Rehabilitation processes should be adopted in order to attain and/or retain the functional abilities necessary to use the technological products and services available.
4.8. Research and development
Since new technologies hold a strong potential to improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities, governments should support research and development programmes aimed at using that potential. The programmes should address technological features in mainstream systems, products and services as well as assistive technology devices.
Research, development and manufacture of new technologies for rehabilitation should be promoted.
In order to make optimal use of new technology applications for persons with disabilities, research is needed on methodologies for their introduction, training and use.
Research and development in this field should be interdisciplinary and involve human sciences and social sciences in addition to technology and rehabilitation or biomedicine. A broad, holistic perspective should be applied in order to cover the different aspects of the relationship between an individual and technology. Thus, efforts should be co-ordinated between different disciplines, funding sources and other actors.
The involvement and influence of disability organisations is vital in order to set the right priorities for research and development programmes.
In order to ensure the practical application of research and development results, close co-operation between researchers, industry and users should be sought.
Support for user participation in research and development projects should be provided.
In addition to research and development targeted specifically at applications for persons with disabilities, other research programmes with the ultimate aim of producing new technology applications should consider the needs of persons with disabilities, wherever relevant.
Research and development should be carried out both nationally and in co-operation across borders. Since the resources are limited in all programmes, mechanisms for the co-ordination of efforts, dissemination of information and exchange of knowledge will greatly enhance the efficiency of resource utilisation.
4.9. Electronic government
Since public authorities at all levels increasingly use new information and communication technologies in their contacts with the public, the requirements of all citizens should be considered when introducing such applications.
In all systems where information is provided to the public, access for persons with disabilities should be provided using the concept of Design for All or, if necessary, alternative formats should be available.
In particular, public websites should be made accessible to the widest audience possible by applying the design guidelines issued by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), a project of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
New interactive systems for providing government services should also be designed for the widest possible use. An alternative should always be available for those who cannot use the regular system.
Special consideration should be given to systems to be used when exercising an individual’s civil rights or obligations, such as voting or filing tax returns. Public authorities should ensure that all citizens can use these systems or, if not, have access to alternative systems.
5.1. Legislation and regulations
Existing legislation and regulations should be reviewed and new legislation and mandatory regulations should be considered in the light of these recommendations.
Legislation and regulation should ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society by means of facilitating, inter alia, their access to new technologies.
Legislation and regulations should require that goods and services be made accessible to persons with disabilities.
5.2. Design for All
Accessibility and usability of products and services should be ensured at the design stage. Therefore, the Design for All strategy should be incorporated in the curricula of all designers and engineers.
An integrated design policy should guarantee that products and services are as widely as possible accessible, without requiring special design adaptations.
Design should simplify life for everyone by making products and services more usable by more people at little or no extra cost.
Design of new technologies should include all persons, regardless of age, gender and ability, and should accommodate a wide range of individual abilities and preferences.
Design should communicate essential information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.
Design should minimise hazards and adverse consequences of accidental or unintended usage or actions.
5.3. User involvement
Policies, products and services should be designed, developed and evaluated with the co-operation of users across the age span, including persons with disabilities.
Users should be considered an essential source of information because of their first-hand knowledge and experience. Developers and providers of goods and services, as well as relevant authorities, should consult regularly with disabled users about their access requirements and take appropriate action.
User participation should form an integral part of sound project planning and should take place as early as possible.
Consequently, it should be considered in all policy areas. Thus, where it is necessary to reorganise a workplace with new technologies due to disability, the employee concerned and his or her representative within the company should be involved
Assessment practices for assistive technology should concentrate on involving the consumer in all aspects of decision-making.
Organisations representing persons with disabilities should be prepared to contribute their knowledge and experience. Project materials, communications and premises should be made accessible to users. Co-operation should be based on the idea of mutual partnership.
Since many user organisations are non-governmental organisations, often based on the efforts of volunteers, appropriate ways and means of compensation and support should be envisaged.
5. 4. Standardisation
Given that standards can be an efficient tool for incorporating accessibility, usability and safety in new products and systems, governments should promote the use of accessibility and usability standards and their inclusion in national and international standardisation work. One way of doing this is to support the participation of informed representatives of persons with disabilities in the standardisation process.
Initiatives should be promoted, both for developing standards for products and services specially targeted at persons with disabilities and for including the needs and requirements of disabled users in the development of standards for products and services for the general public.
Public authorities should acknowledge the importance of involvement in work with both formal standards as carried out in international and European standards bodies and informal standards, such as guidelines, industry agreements, recommendations, best practices and benchmarking.
In order to ensure that standards are being used and applied, information and awareness-raising activities should be carried out.
5.5. Centres of excellence
In order to accelerate and consolidate progress, every member state should appoint a body, new or existing, promote the creation of a professional centre of expertise or use other bodies with competence to disseminate information and documentation as well as to give advice, assistance and support on issues relating to new technologies and persons with disabilities and to serve as a resource and development centre.
Using modern technologies, such centres should be efficiently connected within networks, both nationally and internationally, for the exchange of knowledge, sharing of information and experiences as well as project co-operation.
5.6. Public procurement policies
Given that public procurement provides a good opportunity to influence the design of products and services, public authorities buying products and services should ensure that these comply with accessibility requirements for persons with disabilities.
To ensure equal opportunities for all citizens, public authorities should procure products and services that can be used by as many individuals as possible, with or without disabilities.
Procuring entities should co-ordinate and co-operate, both nationally and internationally, to strengthen both the position of the procurers and the requirements.
Since the effectiveness of any measures cannot be determined without systematic evaluation, the degree of success of each measure should be considered and emerging problems identified.
It is therefore recommended that regular surveys should be carried out on the extent to which the above-mentioned concepts have been implemented. The impact of new technologies on the quality of life of persons with disabilities should be analysed. A standard monitoring procedure should be set up in each member state of the Partial Agreement in the Social and Public Health Field.
To establish a sound basis for the consecutive development of monitoring instruments, surveys and analyses should be based on parameters that are nationally comparable over time.
Evaluation systems should aim at the greatest practicable comparability of data not only within but also between countries, by bearing in mind the work of relevant international organisations on statistical indicators.
5.8. International co-operation
Member states should promote the sharing of experiences, research findings and other information. Channels and structures for such interaction should be set up.
Governments should facilitate co-operation across borders and foster contacts between professionals, researchers and users of technology in this field.
Research and development programmes and projects will benefit from being co-ordinated and well-informed, leading to more efficient use of resources.
The bodies referred to in Chapter 5.5. should be called upon to communicate with corresponding bodies and institutions in other countries.
The setting-up of an international centre to study the impact of new technologies on the quality of life of persons with disabilities should be promoted.
An international exchange of good practice should be developed, illustrating the major themes of this resolution by practical detailed examples, making the best possible use of new information technologies such as the Internet.
Such examples, although set in specific contexts, should be sufficiently transferable to demonstrate that solutions and good practice can be shared. They should inspire creative imitation in the spirit of this resolution.
6. International follow-up
The governments of the member states of the Partial Agreement in the Social and Public Health Field should present periodically to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe a report on their policy pursued and the measures taken in the application of the provisions contained in this resolution, preferably within the framework of an international conference to exchange information and share experience and best practices.
The reports should be presented at appropriate intervals as requested, in a form determined by the Committee on the Rehabilitation and Integration of People with disabilities (CD-P-RR).
Indicators of success should be determined by the CD-P-RR.