"There is still a long way to go for society to remove the obstacles it places on persons with disabilities. Even we as politicians, at times use language that focuses on the vulnerability of people rather than their potential. We seem to highlight the disadvantages we perceive people to have rather than at what they can fulfil. This will continue to impair the much needed empowerment towards independent living that leads to social interaction."
MEP Therese Comodini Cachia made these remarks during a consultation meeting with civil society at the European Parliament in Brussels as part of her new role in the Culture and Education (CULT) Committee where she has been appointed by the EPP Group as shadow rapporteur on the "Implementation of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities with special regard to the concluding observations of the UN Committee on the rights of persons with disabilities (CPRD)".
Comodini Cachia argued that whereas the concept of inclusive education had been incorporated in a number of Member States, there is the need to review whether this reflects true inclusion or only reasonable accomodation. "Persons with disabilities make a valuable contribution to society, and this contribution can be even greater if inclusion was genuine and effective."
In the light of a hub for persons with disability which was proposed by the Maltese Government and which was criticised by civil society, Comodini Cachia emphasised that this incident clearly highlights the importance of distinguishing between reasonable accommodation and true inclusion. "My main concern is that measures which the EU is funding and measures which Member States implement are measures which continue to highlight the disadvantages rather than the potential of people with disabilities thereby hampering their right to independent living and access to full participation in society."
Comodini Cachia who is an eSkills ambassador and who is currently working on how aspects of robotics can serve to tackle everyday life challenges said "It is possibly the right time to see how technology and artificial intelligence brings more inclusiveness and more independence".