Hearing News In The Headlines: EU Agrees New Rights

Today disabled people across the European Union have won important new rights to travel on buses and coaches.

The EU has agreed new rights to benefit disabled and older bus passengers.

The rights and gains for disabled and older people include accessible travel information both before and during the journey, mandatory disability awareness training for all drivers and a right to compensation for damaged wheelchairs or other assistive equipment.

Furthermore, information about passenger rights will become available in terminals and online. They will apply to all journeys, including local bus services.

UK charities which lead the strong campaign in this country are now celebrating this success.

Charities consist of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), Sense, Age UK, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Guide Dogs, Radar and the Royal National Institute for the Deaf.

Members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France approved this regulation and it will come into force in 2013.

Roger Wicks, RNID’s Director of Research, Policy and Government Relations, said: “People with hearing loss often face unnecessary communication barriers when trying to obtain information about everyday travel disruption or cancellations.

“These ground-breaking regulations, which require drivers and terminal staff to receive disability awareness training, will have a tremendous impact by making bus and coach travel more accessible for passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing.”

Member States will not be able to postpone the implementation of the following minimum rights, applicable for all bus and coach journeys.

– a right to transport
– a right to accessible travel information before and during the journey
– access to a complaint handling mechanism with independent national bodies to enforce the regulation and where appropriate issue penalties
– a right to compensation for damaged wheelchairs or other assistive equipment
– general information about passenger rights in terminals and online.

Member States will be able to postpone the obligation on bus operators to organise mandatory disability awareness training for all drivers for five years (so until 2018).

For journeys of 250 km or more disabled passengers will be entitled to free assistance both at terminals and on board. There will also be provision for free transport for accompanying people where this is necessary.

The UK government ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in June 2009.

For all hearing aid users, this is great news!

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