Accessible Labelling Wins Overwhelming Support

30 June 2011
Alyn Smith has today hailed the successful passage of a written declaration in the European Parliament supporting accessible labelling.

This marks an important milestone for blind and partially sighted people.

The text calls on the European Commission to launch a wide consultation on the feasibility of introducing a voluntary system of labelling in Braille and other accessible formats. With a record-breaking 447 signatures from MEPs, including Alyn, it has become the most supported written declaration in this Parliament, highlighting the institution’s commitment to fight the discrimination that blind and partially sighted people experience when carrying out everyday tasks such as shopping.

Alyn said:

"This is an excellent result for this written declaration and will help to underline the urgency of this issue. It is important that relevant information is available for European consumers, but we must not forget that this information needs to be accessible for all.

"Modern technology has made it all the easier for blind or partially sighted people to access information but we need legislation that fits this new reality. Not only will blind and partially sighted people continue to be reliant on others without improvements to the current set up, but they are also being put at unnecessary risk too. If you can't see, then a tin is just a tin; a bottle could contain milk or bleach.

"We have no excuse: this must be addressed now. Advances in technology have done much of the work for us: the legislation must now catch up. The success of this written declaration has put this issue back on the EU agenda and I look forward to seeing concrete action."

To be adopted, a written declaration needs to gather the signatures of an absolute majority of MEPs. Over the last 7 years, 623 written declarations were put forward by MEPs. Only 55 have been adopted.

A written declaration is a text of a maximum of 200 words on a matter falling within the European Union’s sphere of activities. MEPs can use written declarations to launch or relaunch a debate on a subject that comes within the EU’s remit.