The European Commission has sent a “reasoned opinion” to Cyprus, criticising the government for failing to meet EU standards on accessibility for disabled people.
Cyprus was one of five member- states to be called out by the Commission, with Bulgaria, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Poland also being served reasoned opinions on the matter.
The Commission deemed that Cyprus has failed to comply with the European Accessibility Act, which requires key products and services such as telephones, computers, e-books, banking services, and electronic communications can be used people with disabilities.
As a result of the reasoned opinions, the five named member states, including Cyprus, now have two months to take action or they could be referred to the European Court of Justice.
Demetris Lambrianides, the press officer of the Paraplegics Organisation of Cyprus, said the Commission’s verdict was negative news for the country, and called on the government to take action.
He said the government should have taken action before the EU intervention, saying that these issues affect the daily lives of people with disabilities.
He also called for the creation of an independent local authority which would be charged with dealing with the issues which affect people with disabilities, saying that the lack of such an authority slowed down the process of solving problems.
A bill to create such an authority, was currently being prepared.
He added that there are many buildings in Cyprus which are completely inaccessible to disabled people, and recalled that one disabled patient was asked to climb a flight of stairs to take a test for osteoporosis. He was unable to do so, and therefore had to leave without taking the test or receiving any medical care.
“Without accessible equipment, how can you possibly safely treat patients? I’ll emphasise the word safety because accessibility and safety go hand in hand”, he said.
In addition, he said “people with hearing loss or speech loss face the greatest exclusion from society because interpretation services for them are very poor”.