On the eve of the International Day of Disabled Persons, December 3rd, the Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities wished to emphasize on Wednesday that the accessibility of public services remains their “central issue” in Belgium, “which should be taken seriously in hand by the authorities.” Belgium has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in force since 2009, but the Centre explains that the implementation of measures under the Accessibility text still hasn’t taken place, according to an assessment conducted last year.
Marie-Ange Vandecandelaere works for the Disability Service of the UN Convention Centre: “The next evaluation will take place in 2019, and the UN expect an evolution in terms of accessibility to disabled people from Belgium by then.” Meanwhile the organization deplores the fact that the problem “is somewhat dependent on the goodwill of each other.” It particularly wants the authorities define an agenda and a legal framework to make gradually, through clear guidelines, all buildings that are open to the public accessible to disabled people.
Among the files that the Centre opened in 2014, 1 out of 5 concerns possible discrimination related to disability. Patrick Charlier, the director, explains that these files are most likely behind those related to the so-called “racial” criteria. And among the disability-related issues, those reporting accessibility problems are the most common (32%, that is 122 cases in 2014). “All sectors are concerned, including public services,” he adds.
Mr Chalier continues: “Only half of the post offices offers an access to disabled people. The same goes for education, where barely one in ten school building is accessible to people with disabilities in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation and only 3 out of 10 in Flanders.”