Protection at international level of the rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities


Decision 2010/48/EC on the conclusion, by the European Community, of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The decision adopts on behalf the European Community (now the EU) the United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, included in the annex to the decision.


This international Convention is intended to ensure the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with disabilities.

To this end, the Convention is based on a series of principles:

respect for the dignity, autonomy and independence of persons;
participation and inclusion in society;
respect for difference and acceptance of persons;
equality of opportunity;
accessibility, in particular access to transportation, information and communications, public facilities and services, in urban and rural areas;
equality between men and women;
respect for the identity of children with disabilities and for their evolving capacities.

Countries which are party to the convention must take all necessary measures to ensure respect for these principles on an ongoing basis. They also undertake to support the economic, social and cultural rights of persons with disabilities.

In addition, persons with disabilities should be consulted in the development and implementation of legislation and policies relating to them.

Protection against discrimination

All discrimination on the basis of disability is prohibited and persons with disabilities are to receive equal and effective legal protection.

The convention contains specific rules in relation to 2 population groups:

women with disabilities, who are subject to multiple discrimination. Measures are to be taken to ensure their full development and their autonomy;
children with disabilities, who are entitled to protection of their best interests in decisions affecting them, also have the right to express their views freely and to be provided with appropriate assistance.

Countries which are parties to the convention undertake to combat stereotypes and to promote awareness of the capabilities of persons with disabilities.

Rights recognised by the convention

The convention lays down a series of rights and freedoms to which persons with disabilities are entitled. These include:

the right to life;
protection in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies;
recognition as persons before the law and of legal capacity, especially with a view to owning property and freedom to manage their own finances, while being protected against abuse;
access to justice, thanks to procedural accommodations;
liberty and security;
freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse;
protection of physical and mental integrity;
liberty of movement, the right to choose place of residence and nationality;
living independently and being included in the community;
personal mobility, especially through mobility devices and technologies;
freedom of expression and access to information;
respect for privacy;
respect for home and the family;
the right to education;
access to health services;
habilitation and rehabilitation, by attaining full physical, mental, social and vocational ability;
the right to work, without discrimination and under just and favourable conditions;
the right to an adequate standard of living and social protection;
participation in political and public life, including by voting and being elected;
participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport.

Implementation of the convention

Any international cooperation action undertaken must be inclusive of persons with disabilities, notably in partnership with relevant international and regional organisations.

Countries must set up one or more national focal points responsible for the implementation of the Convention and inform the public about the convention. They must establish an independent mechanism to monitor the implementation of the convention. Civil society must be fully involved in monitoring action.

Lastly, each country must submit a comprehensive report on measures taken to fulfil its obligations, within 2 years of its accession to the convention.

The decision has applied since 26 November 2009. The Convention entered into force on 3 May 2008 and has applied in the EU since 22 January 2011.


Council Decision 2010/48/EC of 26 November 2009 concerning the conclusion, by the European Community, of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (OJ L

Accessibility of products and services

Directive (EU) 2019/882 on the accessibility requirements for products and services

It aims to harmonise accessibility* requirements for certain products* and services so the EU’s internal market operates smoothly by eliminating and preventing any free-movement barriers that may exist because of divergent national legislation.

It aims to bring benefits to businesses, people with disabilities* and the elderly. Applying accessibility requirements will clarify the existing accessibility obligation in EU law, particularly in public procurement and structural funds.
It is known as the European accessibility act.


The legislation will apply from 28 June 2025 to the following.

computers and operating systems;
payment terminals and certain self-service terminals such as ATMs, ticketing and check-in machines, interactive self-service information terminals;
smartphones and other equipment for accessing telecommunication services;
TV equipment involving digital television services;
telephony services;
services to access audiovisual media services;
certain elements of air, bus, rail and water transport services such as websites, mobile services, electronic tickets, information;
consumer banking;
answer to emergency calls to the single European number ‘112’.
The legislation does not apply to:

pre-recorded time-based media, such as videos and slides or office file formats published before 28 June 2025;
online maps if essential information is provided in an accessible digital way;
websites and other forms of archive containing content not updated or edited after 28 June 2025;
microenterprises providing services.
Specific accessibility requirements apply to all products and services covered by the legislation, provided these do not alter their basic nature or impose a disproportionate burden on operators.

Products must:
be designed and produced to maximise their use by people with disabilities;
comply with detailed rules on information and instructions, user interface and functionality design, support services and packaging.
Services must:
provide information about the service, its accessibility features and facilities;
make websites and mobile devices easily accessible;
support systems, such as help desks, call centres and training to provide information on accessibility;
apply practices, policies and procedures to address the needs of people with disabilities. Specific rules apply to different services (electronic communications, audiovisual, air, bus, rail, water and urban transport, consumer banking, e-books, e-commerce and the answering to emergency 112 phone number).
EU countries may decide to require the compliance of the built environment where services are provided with accessibility requirements.
Annex II provides non-binding examples of how the various accessibility requirements may be met.
The legislation requires the following.

Manufacturers must:
design and manufacture products according to the directive, taking into account any subsequent changes in the harmonised standards;
draw up the necessary technical documentation, carry out the conformity procedure and keep the information for 5 years;
provide clear identification on their products and their own contact details;
accompany the product with easily understood instructions and safety information.
Importers must:
ensure the product has passed the conformity assessment procedure, has the necessary technical documentation, including instructions in a language users can easily understand, and bears the CE marking;
refuse to place on the market a product they believe does not meet the accessibility requirements and to inform the manufacturer and market surveillance authorities.
Service providers must:
design and provide services according to the directive;
make available to the public written and oral information easily accessible to people with disabilities on the service they offer and how this meets the accessibility requirements;
ensure procedures are in place to continue conforming with the accessibility requirements and take into account any changes.
Manufacturers, importers and distributors must act immediately if they discover the product no longer complies with the legislation.
EU countries must:

ensure all products and services covered by the legislation comply with its accessibility requirements;
on request supply the public with information on how companies implement the requirements;
implement and update procedures to:
check the compliance of services with the directive,
follow up complaints or reports on non-compliance,
verify that the company has remedied the failing;
provide ways, including legal action, to ensure compliance and penalties for any breach of the law.
The European Commission:

may adopt delegated and implementing acts to amend technical aspects of the directive;
may request the European standardisation organisations to draft harmonised standards on accessibility requirements or adopt technical specifications under certain conditions;
establishes a working group of representatives of authorities for market surveillance and services’ compliance and of stakeholders including disability organisations to:
promote exchange of information and best practice,
foster cooperation between authorities and stakeholders,
provide advice;
submits, by 28 June 2030 and every 5 years thereafter, a report to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the application of the legislation.

It has to become law in the EU countries by 28 June 2022. EU countries must apply the measures from 28 June 2025.

However, EU countries may:

delay compliance for the European emergency 112 number until 28 June 2027;
give service providers whose facilities were already lawfully in use by 28 June 2025 a further 5 years (until 28 June 2030);
allow self-service terminals to operate until the end of their economically useful life, but no longer than 20 years after entering service.

Over 80 million people in the EU live with some kind of disability. With an ageing society, the number is increasing.
The EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights recognises and respects the right of persons with disabilities to benefit from measures designed to ensure their independence, social and occupational integration and participation in the life of the community.
The directive defines people with disabilities in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which has been ratified by all EU countries.

Accessibility: design of products, devices, services or environments to be used by people with disabilities on equal basis with others.
Products: a substance, preparation or good produced through a manufacturing process (other than food, feed, living plants and animals or products of human, plant and animal origin for future reproduction).
Person with disabilities: someone with long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full, effective participation in society on equal basis with others.

Directive (EU) 2019/882 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on the accessibility requirements for products and services (OJ L 151, 7.6.2019, pp. 70-115)


Directive (EU) 2018/1972 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 establishing the European Electronic Communications Code (recast) (OJ L 321, 17.12.2018, pp. 36-214)

Decision No 768/2008/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 July 2008 on a common framework for the marketing of products, and repealing Council Decision 93/465/EEC (OJ L 218, 13.8.2008, pp. 82-128)

last update 10.09.2019

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