A review last month of the plan’s mid-term results revealed some progress in key priority areas for people with disabilities. These include improvements in education, vocational training, employment, accessibility and rehabilitation.
The Council of Europe now wants non-governmental organisations (NGOs), media and business to help member states as they move to improve the participation in political and cultural life of people with disabilities.
“We would like media, employers, employers’ federations, trade unions and non governmental organisations to help in raising awareness about disabilities at the national and European level,” said a Council of Europe spokesman.
“Government is about making laws and ensuring their application managing populations through law enforcement. Raising awareness by law is complicated. That is why these groups can have such a powerful influence on changing attitudes, so that people with disabilities are able to explore the full potential of their lives.”
The mid-term results of the Disabilities Action Plan 2006-2015 will be published at an inter-governmental conference in Istanbul, Turkey, next December.
Television companies in the United Kingdom in particular have already moved to include people with disabilities in their programmes.
'Eastenders' and 'Coronation Street,' the country's most popular drama serials, both have long-term story lines involving characters with disabilities.
The Cyprus Salsa Festival last March featured the Lebanese dancer Fadi El Halabi and his partner (See video). He will be performing at the UK Salsa Festival next January and hopes to establish in the Middle East, the first dance academy to include people with disabilities.