Blind and Partially sighted citizens do not enjoy the same rights as their sighted peers. Despite the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the European Union in late 2009, European visually impaired citizens are still suffering from social exclusion, thus making them one of the most vulnerable groups of society.
The BASIC project (Blind and partially-sighted Acting for Social Inclusion and Citizenship) that EBU implemented in 2014 aimed to voice and mainstream the needs and expectations of the 30 million blind and partially sighted European citizens to obtain their full social inclusion and citizenship.
BASIC endeavoured to address the concerns and meet the needs of the VI community, in particular by influencing EU legislation making. It coordinated the EBU 2014 lobbying and policy-making activity, including the production of 5 new position papers, to adequately address the visual impairment dimension in several areas crucial to the VI community such as e-accessibility (including access to public websites as well as e-payments), the detection of silent vehicles by VI pedestrians, or the effective implementation of the recently adopted WIPO treaty to facilitate VI readers' access to published works.
BASIC also reinforced EBU members' crucial role in monitoring the UNCRPD through the creation and coordination of a European network of national UNCRPD Champions, the production of an analytical report on data collected for article 29 of the UNCRPD, "Participation in political and public life", the collection of national data on article 33 "National implementation and monitoring", and through the organisation of a session on "How to monitor the implementation of the UNCRPD through article 33" in Tirrenia, Italy, on 25 October.
This session was part of EBU's broader capacity-building strategy consisting of two other sessions on "How to monitor the ratification of the WIPO Marrakesh Treaty" (Tirrenia, Italy, 25 October) and "Campaigning and Twitter" (London, UK, 10 December).
Furthermore, BASIC helped EBU to raise awareness on visual impairment and on our activities. General information tools including the EBU bi-monthly newsletter, press releases, the EBU website, the EBU Facebook page (External link) were updated and an annual activity report was created to provide up-to-date information to EBU members, partners, the media and the general public. The new EBU Twitter account (External link) was also increasingly used as a lobbying and awareness-raising tool. EBU also highlighted specific issues relevant to VI persons by producing two short and concise action sheets on access to on-line content and services and on compensation rights for visual disabilities. The election of a new European Parliament in 2014 prompted EBU to hold a "Blind dates" event in Brussels on 11 and 12 November 2014 to “open the eyes” of the renewed European institutions to VI. Coinciding with EBU's 30th anniversary, this event was the opportunity for EBU leaders and experts to voice our motto “Nothing about us without us” in the highest European spheres. In particular, EBU presented its "Access denied" report, which raises awareness on the unjust and unnecessary barriers faced by millions of blind and partially sighted citizens when trying to access everyday goods, services and information, including online. Finally, the BASIC project offered the opportunity for EBU to update its communication strategy and carry out new awareness-raising actions in 2015.
EBU also worked to promote diversity in 2014.
Partially sighted persons, who represent an increasing part of the VI population, benefitted from the production of a brochure presenting 10 "Minimum standards for low vision services in Europe".
In addition, a position paper on "Rehabilitation and Older People with Acquired Sight Loss" as a concrete response to the challenge of ageing of the European population that leads to an increasing prevalence of age-related sight loss.
Blind and partially sighted women also benefitted from the BASIC project through the production of a new EBU information package "The Right to Live without Violence" consisting of one information brochure aimed at professionals, one information brochure aimed at VI women and their organisations and an awareness-raising poster (External link) as well as guidelines.
The BASIC project provided visually impaired persons, EU and national decision-makers and the media with EBU's long-standing expertise in a wide range of areas, allowing for a comprehensive response to the BASIC right for full social inclusion and citizenship of blind and partially sighted persons in Europe.
This project was supported by the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity - PROGRESS (2007-2013).