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There are approximately 80 million Europeans with disabilities, which is over 15% of the whole population. Put into context that means, one in four Europeans has a family member with a disability. Even in Europe, it has been found that persons with disabilities do not have equal access to education, and consequently remain at the top of unemployment rates and generally live on significantly lower income.
Ireland: Mr. Eoin O’Herlihy
Portugal: Mr. Pedro Homem de Gouveia
Republic of Abkhazia: Ms. Elena Kuvichko
Spain: Mr. Fernando Alonso López
Switzerland: Mr. (Prof.) Alireza Darvishy
Russia: Mr. Alexey Kostryukov
The Netherlands: Mr. Willem Jagersma
Eoin worked for the National Disability Authority in Ireland as an accessibility specialist from 2003 to 2007. He then established O’Herlihy Access Consultancy (OHAC) which is one of the leading specialists in access consultancy and training in Ireland. OHAC works in partnership with national and international clients to ensure that their built environment, services, human resources and information provision are accessible to all staff and customers regardless of age, size or disability.
With over fourteen years experience working as an accessibility consultant and trainer, Eoin has advised clients in both the private and public sectors, including the National Disability Authority, the European Commission; Dublin Castle; University College Cork; the National Standards Authority of Ireland; Microsoft among others. Eoin regularly speaks at national and international conferences on accessibility and is currently a guest lecturer at University College Dublin & NUI Galway. He is a Chartered Engineer and member of Engineers Ireland; Chairperson for the National Standards Authority of Ireland, Access for All Consultative Committee Working Group 1 (Access to the Built Environment); an inspector for An Bord Pleanála in relation to Disability Access Certificate application appeals and a member of the Irish Ergonomics Society. Eoin is also a member of the GAATES Executive Committee, serving as Secretary.
Pedro is a Founding Partner of Include, Ltd., a firm providing clients with technical expertise in the fields of accessibility, universal design and public participation, through planning and design, consulting, training, research and field work (from access audits to focus groups).
Pedro is Chief Consultant to the City of Lisbon’s Accessibility Office, assisting the City’s Accessibility Office develop and share know-how in Accessibility and Universal Design, with all City Departments and Agencies and with the community as a whole. He is currently also the Planning Team Coordinator for Lisbon’s Pedestrian Accessibility Plan.
He regularly provides Accessibility and Universal Training for Professionals, and as a certified trainer has conducted over 800 hours of training on Accessibility and Universal Design for over 1,500 professionals (architects, landscape architects, civil engineers, nurses, social workers, journalists, etc.) and several persons with disabilities.
In addition, he was a Reporting Member of the Government’s Task-Force on Accessibility Legislation, created by the Secretary of State for Rehabilitation with the mission of evaluating the efficacy of the existing Portuguese accessibility legislation (Decree-Law no. 163/2006), that establishes mandatory accessibility standards and the rules for their application to the built environment.
Elena works for the AIS, Association of “Inva-Sodeystvie”. AIS is a public organization of disabled people. It was created in 1996 by the initiative of wheelchair users, ex-combatants on the principle of self-assistance. AIS is working towards making a big change in the lives of those disabled by the conflicts in the region, through education, peer consulting, and rehabilitation. The next step for AIS is to further the education of beneficiaries through distance learning, which would be facilitated through implementation of an Internet cafe. In Abkhazia 10 different organizations of disabled people, are working to set priorities to get more social support from the Government of Abkhazia. Unfortunately, the economical conditions, level of education and social system in Abkhazia are so poor that the Government cannot provide services that will cover needs and rights people with disabilities on many issues. AIS, plays an expert role on disability issues, because we are used as a base for our projects UN conventions and experience from international organizations.
Fernando has a Degree in Economics from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and a Masters in Applied Economics (doctorate courses) from the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona. Fernando has developed a research profile on economic benefits of housing and urban accessibility. He has experience in direction of target groups from different disciplines, mainly architects, economists and engineers in the field of accessibility. Fernando is an associate consultant to the Director of Planificación Territorial/Instituto del Territorio y Urbanismo (ITUR) in the Ministerio de Fomento (public works) for 3 years and the Coordinator of the Spanish Plan for Accessibility 2004-2012. Fernando has published a number of books and articles on accessibility of urban and public spaces.
Alireza is the Head of the ICT Accessibility Lab at Zurich University for Applied Sciences, Institute for Applied Information Technology in Winterthur, Switzerland. In addition he is the Professor of Information and Technology (Accessibility, Usability, Human-Computer Interaction and Technologies for Elderly People.) Most recently working at the ICT Lab.
He has rich experience in the area of ICT and has developed many projects jointly with private enterprises in Switzerland, including: Talking ATM’s, Accessible Online Banking, and Web Accessibility.
Alexy is the Chairman of the Board RPODP “City Life” (РООИ «Городская жизнь») http://www.pocl.ru/; the moderator of the First Russian portal for disabled «Disability.ru» http://www.disability.ru/ and a member of the Public Inspection for the Disabled in Moscow.
Alexey has experience conducting examinations of urban infrastructure in terms of their accessibility for the disabled and other people with limited mobility (in various stages of construction and operation).
His organization provides advice on institutional and legal frameworks in the formation of a barrier-free environment and livelihoods, technical regulations for buildings and facilities, accessibility of buildings and facilities for people with limited mobility, the UN Convention on the Rights of persons with disabilities, as well as the basics of the concepts of Universal Design. In addition, his organization has undertaken consultations on government programs: “Accessible Environment”, “Universal Design – Accessible Environment”.
He is a regular participant of conferences and “round tables” in favor of equal rights, equal opportunities.
Willem, an architectural engineer since 1974, worked in several positions at various organizations in the building industry. Since 1995 he has been working as an independent entrepreneur. In 2000 he was asked to accompany a project in the field of accessibility. From that moment on accessibility began to play an increasingly important role in his daily work. In 2006 he started with preparations for modernization of the existing Dutch accessibility standard and ITS-Keurmerk (the accessibility mark in the Netherlands since 1970). In 2012, Willem and his business partner Robert founded PBTconsult, a consulting group that specializes in the field of accessibility. Focus is on the physical accessibility of the Built Environment that includes outdoor spaces, buildings, homes, building elements, events and public transport.
In order to make an inclusive society a reality, it is necessary to identify and remove barriers to access.