EGDF news about new CEN committee on guide dog standards.
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To EGDF Members:

What an active month has May been!  Four opportunities to further our objectives by working with other organisations.

  1. A visit to Malta Guide Dog Foundation to make plans for EGDF's conference and AGM on November 30 to December 2, 2017.

  2. The second meeting of CEN, the European Committee for Standardisation, Technical Committee 452 to establish a European standard for assistance dogs, including guide dogs.

  3. European Disability Forum's Annual General Assembly

  4. Assistance Dogs Europe Symposium  

Views of Qawra Palace Hotel, venue of the EGDF conference in November 2017
Views of Qawra Palace Hotel, venue of the EGDF conference in November 2017.
1.  We are excited to give you the first news about EGDF's 2017 conference. Save the date:  30 Nov to 2 Dec and make plans to head to Malta for a stimulating programme celebrating EGDF's 10th anniversary.  Enjoy a short pre-Christmas break in a balmy Mediterranean climate at the Qawra Palace Hotel, in a resort area not far from Malta's airport. The programme starts Thursday afternoon and finishes Friday evening.  There will be a Board meeting early Saturday morning followed by an optional sightseeing trip for all attendees.  We are sure that the great location and favourable rates will attract many new delegates to join the regulars.  Registration details will follow.
(Left) Secretary Vesna Ferencak Brodaric, Chairman Marijan Alfonso Sesar, David Adams and Judith Jones of EGDF.  (Right) Delegates fill the perimeter of meeting room in Vienna
(Left) Secretary Vesna Ferencak Brodaric, Chairman Marijan Alfonso Sesar, David Adams and Judith Jones of EGDF.  (Right) Delegates fill the perimeter of meeting room in Vienna.

CEN/TC452 is a rather dull name for an exciting undertaking.  Guide and assistance dog professionals from across Europe are working on the definition of an assistance dog which will underpin a European standard that will regulate training and ensure improved access to all public places for disabled people with dogs.  One of the biggest changes concerns self-trained dogs.  In the future, all partnerships that fulfill the new criteria could be recognised.

Last November we campaigned for all of our members to get in touch with their national standards organisation and play a role in this project.  Many of you have joined in and the number and quality of participants are increasing steadily.  It is important that the people involved have relevant experience and qualifications.

The second meeting in Vienna last Tuesday agreed on the business plan, accepted an offer from Canada to share the work they have done on the same subject over the past two years, and set up the first working group to agree on terminology.  

It is not too late to get involved -- especially if you are from Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ireland, Switzerland, Iceland, Malta, Norway or any other country not yet participating.  Countries set up their own "mirror" committees to follow the work and contribute to it.  Each country can then send three delegates to the twice-yearly committee meetings.

After three or more years, a standard(s) will probably be adopted across Europe.  Each one of you reading this has the chance to participate in making this an effective standard.  Get moving!
Some of the 200 delegates to the European Disability Forum meeting
The European Disability Forum lobbies powerfully for the rights of the 80 million people in Europe with disabilities. Their  Annual General Assembly and conference in Madrid, Spain, brought together over 200 participants to mark EDF’s 20th anniversary, to recall the achievements of the disability movement in the last 20 years, to identify the challenges ahead and how the disability movement should address these challenges.

EDF President, Yannis Vardakastanis, highlighted the great importance of the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) by the European Union. Speakers also included the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Market, Marianne Thyssen, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Member, Ana Peláez, Narváez, and the Member of the European Parliament, Helga Stevens.

 Ana Peláez Narváez talked about those who face a high risk of being left behind, such as women and girls with disabilities, children, and persons with invisible disabilities. “Do you think all people with disabilities have the right to vote or the right to inclusive education? Or that all women with disabilities have the right to be mothers?”, she said concluding that all rights have to be a reality for all people, not some rights for some people”.

Nujeen Mustafa, a refugee from Syria,  talked about the challenges that refugees with disabilities face due to the lack of accessibility in the refugee camps that makes even basic things like entering the toilet impossible, emphasising that refugees with disabilities should not be forgotten. Find out more Nujeen’s story in EDF's article ‘Fleeing Syria in a wheelchair’.

EDF adopted important resolutions on the Accessibility Act and on the Marrakesh Treaty, as well as a report on the ongoing Forced Sterilisation of Women with Disabilities and a plan for action for the coming years. 

Peter Gorbing, ADEu, (right) chaired the symposium.  David Adams, EGDF, (left) and Chris Muldoon,  IGDF,(centre) discussed how the three organisations can better collaborate.
Peter Gorbing, ADEu, (right) chaired the symposium.  David Adams, EGDF, (left) and Chris Muldoon,  IGDF,(centre) discussed how the three organisations can better collaborate.

The Assistance Dog Europe symposium last week discussed and debated the changes that are facing our organisations:
  • The new CEN standard on assistance dogs,
  • Existing standards and those who do not adhere to them
  • Access rights for dogs not trained by an IGDF or ADI accredited school
  • The Austrian model for accreditation of assistance dogs and granting of access rights
  • Advice on lobbying at European level for rights for assistance dogs
These are important concepts that are evolving and no doubt will be discussed and evaluated at the EGDF meeting in November.
SIGN THE PETITION, with downward point arrow
In our March newsletter we wrote about the joint EGDF/ADEu petition in the European Parliament and why we need laws for better access for people with assistance dogs.  Your feedback told us that the petition is difficult for blind people to access and we have pointed this out to the European Parliament but no doubt a change will be slow in coming.

We have been dismayed that after asking all our newsletter readers and all the attendees at the ADEu symposium to sign the petition and to get all their family and friends to sign, the number of signatures rose by only 64 to a meagre 265!  Please, please, PLEASE sign the petition and get all your members, clients, staff, volunteers and their friends to sign.

Here again are the instructions for signing -- not the easiest, but definitely worth the extra effort.

1. Follow this link: and complete the form.
2. You will be sent an email saying that the account is created; click on the link to log in.
3.  Click on "Support a petition".
4.  Search on our petition number "1140/2015".  A summary of the petition is at the bottom of the screen.
5.  Click on "View" and then  "Support" and the job is done.  

By signing our petition you support the need for a European law to guarantee that assistance dog users have full access rights to all public areas and facilities.

Thanks for reading and we welcome your feedback.

EGDF Executive Director
Copyright © 2017 European Guide Dog Federation, All rights reserved.

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