Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities as an Important Element of Economic and Social Development: The European Union Case
Purpose: The purpose of this article is to present the issue of accessibility for persons with disabilities as an important element of sustainable development, taking into account the activities of the European Union (EU) in this area. Design/Methodology/Approach: The article is based on an approach according to which sustainable development focuses on the quality of life of a human being. The question arises how the EU refers to these problems in its internal and external policies. Therefore, after the analysis of the UN general documents on sustainable development and accessibility for persons with disabilities, the EU programmes, acts and concrete actions concerning these issues are presented and commented on. This legal analysis is supported by critical analysis of literature and available statistical data. Findings: Ensuring access to goods and services for persons with disabilities is vital for sustainable development as one of its main objectives is to improve the quality of life of all human beings. This issue is taken into account both in the UN and EU documents and is important for both economic and social sustainability. Practical implications: The results are of major importance to governments formulating their programmes on accessibility. They should consider the important role of accessibility within the scope of actions undertaken for social and economic development. Policy makers should also take into account the main challenges that ensuring access to goods and services for persons with disabilities poses in relation to architecture, transport, education, digitalisation, health, culture etc. Originality/value: The article is based on a critical analysis of documents and literature. As a result, it indicates strong and weak points in the implementation of accessibility goals in the frame of sustainable development policy. Moreover, the last part of the article presents solutions indispensable for ensuring access to goods and services for persons with disabilities, which may contribute to the development of good practices in this area.