People with disabilities have poor access to the labour market and services in Europe. Improving their chances would benefit society and the economy, according to a report by Hungarian Christian Democrat Ádám Kósa, which proposes a route forward. It will be discussed on Monday and voted in Tuesday's plenary.
"To achieve our goals, the rights of people with disabilities must be strengthened," Mr Kósa, who is himself deaf, said, ahead of the debate. "Sign languages and special communication techniques, including ICT-based solutions, are key to providing accessible services and solutions, that would enable us to communicate, live and work with the rest of the society." Only 30-40% of disabled people work
Mr Kósa's own-initiative report notes that while there are 80 million people with disabilities living in Europe, only 30‑40% of them is in work because of limited access to the labour market.
Employment is vital because people with disabilities are in greater danger of falling into poverty - the OECD says one in four lives in poverty - and small and medium sized companies could play a key role in boosting employment of those with disabilities, the report says.
Better focus in education
Education is another area where improvements need to be made, it says, as only 5% of people with disabilities have a higher-education qualification. It calls for more attention to be focused on the needs of the disabled from an early age, including extra help for parents.
In addition, access to services and products, for example, braille pricing on products for the blind, should be improved and people with disabilities should be encouraged to take an active role in public life through voting or taking office, according to the report.
The report also urges member states to sign and ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Disabled and develop national strategies in line with the European Disability Strategy and the EU2020 strategy.