December 3rd marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. At least 15% of the European population, or 80 million people, live with one or more disabilities. They face significant challenges in everyday lives. When we see someone using a wheelchair, a guide dog or a prosthetic limb, we focus on the differences and disability rather than our shared social identity, political status, our abilities, aspirations and our dreams.
The power of shifting the focus from disability to ability for inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities is at the heart of the Council of Europe Strategy 2017-2023 - “Human Rights: A Reality for All”. The Strategy aims at supporting and complementing the member States' efforts to build a barrier free Europe where all persons, of all abilities, should have access to and enjoy the full range of human rights.
It provides political decision-makers with a roadmap, guidelines and other useful tools to put in place and implement innovative disability legislation, policies and measures. The Strategy also contributes to the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
The Strategy has five rights based priority areas, each linked to the corresponding articles of the UNCRPD.
In order to guide and help member States in implementing the Strategy, the Council of Europe has prepared five studies on the priority areas that highlight and expand information, evidence, data and good practices on equality and non-discrimination; awareness raising; accessibility; equal recognition before the law and freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse.