Speeches Youth meetings
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ELSA Speeches and Presentations
August 10th 2001
Stefan Trömel, the Director of the European Disability Forum, was invited by ELSA to give an opening address at the World Congress PWS - here is Stefan's speech:
I am the Director of the European Disability Forum. Let me explain very briefly what the EDF is. I am sure that most of you will not know this organisation. The EDF is an umbrella organisation of disability organisations that are operating in the European Union. Our member organisations are National Councils, that is National Disability Councils from each of the 15 European Union countries and also Iceland and Norway. We are now opening up also to the accession countries, those countries, as you know, that are in the process of becoming members of the European Union. This is the first group of members of the EDF, one organisation from each of the countries bringing together different disability groups from these countries. The second group that are members of the EDF are European disability organisations that are specialised by a type of impairment, for example, the European Blind Union, European Union of the Deaf and the European League of Stuttering Associations (ELSA), for instance about 60 different European organisations. So if you bring all those groups together you can see that the EDF is quite an interesting platform, a representative platform of disabled people in the European Union and this is acknowledged by the different European Union institutions and by other social organisations.
The EDF is an organisation of disabled people. The Executive Committee is composed exclusively of disabled people and so is the Board of Directors. The EDF still also includes organisations that are service providers, professionals and other organisations and individuals that work in the field of disability. But it is an organisation that is controlled and governed by disabled people, disabled people and parents of disabled people unable to represent themselves, for instance people with autism or severe learning disabilities.
The EDF was created out of the belief in the right of disabled people to be part of the policy making that affects them. We all know Rule 18 of the UN Standard Rules, "the right of disabled people through their representative organisations to be part of the policy making process". And that means at European Union level the EDF. The EDF is an organisation that defends the human rights of disabled people, the civil, political, economic and social rights of disabled people. To do that we work in all those areas, sectors, that have an impact on the lives of disabled people; transport, information society, education, employment, development co-operation, enlargement of the European Union and others. Our role is to ensure that the different initiatives of the European Union take into account the interests and rights of disabled people.