DREAM Panel – Disability Policy in Crisis – accepted to 20th International Conference of Europeanists

cover of conference brochureA panel submission by DREAM ESRs Stelios CharitakisG. Anthony Giannoumis, and Ieva Eskyte will be presented at the 20th International Conference of Europeanists 25 to 27 June 2013 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

The panel titled “Disability Policy in Crisis – Legal, Public Policy and Practical Approaches” will be chaired by Dr. Mark Davis, and Dr. Thomas Campbell will be acting as the discussant.

The panel will be divided into three sections:

  • Austerity measures in Greece: Do they violate the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities? presented by Stelios Charitakis
  • Disability.eu – the impact of the crisis on the participation of persons with disabilities on the web presented by G. Anthony Giannoumis
  • Accessible Private Market for Disabled People? Crisis in Policy and Market Practices presented by Ieva Eskyte

Panel Summary: The austerity measures that have been adopted throughout Europe have put pressure to the beneficiaries of social welfare, most significantly minorities. As a minority group, disabled people are facing significant reductions or cuts to their benefits. Households with people with impairments are more vulnerable because they have lower than average household incomes. At the same time, a crucial shift on how disabled people are perceived has emerged from the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This UN Treaty marked the shift from the medical model of disability that focused on the impairment of disabled people and was expressed through social welfare benefits, to the social model that promotes full participation and inclusion for people with disabilities through the removal of barriers to equal and active participation in society. States are not the only ones responsible for the implementation of this approach. The private sector in general can be and should be, according to the Convention, leading that cause. Furthermore, the Convention focuses particular attention on information and communication technology (ICT), because of the important role it plays in ensuring social inclusion and full participation in society for disabled people.

The first speaker will take a legal approach. They will examine the case of cutbacks in Greece and will identify the measures that have been taken to reduce the benefits for people with disabilities. The discussion will include whether these measures amount to a violation of the CRPD or whether they are justified, according to Human Rights law. Finally, whether these measures can be seen as an opportunity to change the medical model approach and focus more on the social model approach and what measures Greece have taken to that respect will be considered.

The second speaker will take a public policy approach. They will compare regulatory regimes in the United Kingdom, Norway and the United States, focusing particularly on the social regulation of ICT service providers. The discussion will include the impact of the economic crisis on policy implementation in terms of the choice of policy tools (legislative, incentive, or hortatory). Finally regulatory enforcement of web design will be discussed in terms of standard setting, monitoring, certification and compliance.

The third speaker will take a practice oriented approach. They will examine practical measures that need to be taken by governments in order to achieve a more accessible private market for disabled people. The discussion will cover the impact of economic crisis on disabled shoppers’ position and patterns in the market as well as on experiences of sellers and producers of ICT. The discussion will be framed in Habermas’ life world colonization theory and informed by the position of the EU through a discussion of pertinent policy documents.

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