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Disability days: fight for access

France is organising the first of a series of national Disability Days as part of its commitment to opening up access

FRANCE is organising the first of a series of national Disability Days as part of its commitment to opening up access for the handicapped.

The plans call for two weeks of Journées Territoriales de l’Accessibilité in prefectures where everyone in the disabled movement can find out how well their local authorities are doing in terms of implementing disabled legislation.

The JTAs will be held between May 15-31.

Family and solidarity minister Nadine Morano has also set up a watchdog to track progress on reaching the intended 2015 deadline of implementing strict European rules on disabled access.

Ms Morano says the government is on the way to giving disabled people open access to public buildings and transport – but acknowledges there is still work to be done.

Suggestions include GPS devices to let people find office accesses and other entrances that are adapted for easy use; video links to allow the hard-of-hearing or people with communications difficulties to contact emergency services, and in Paris the transport network RATP is working on a new audio guide for the hard-of-hearing.

However, vast sections of the capital’s Metro network and those of many other cities is still out of bounds because of stairs, lifts and escalators.

Ms Morano wants improved bus and tram networks to provide a consistent and easy-to-use service as well as more wheelchair space on TGVs.

Disabled groups such as the Association des Paralysés de France say progress has been made but president Jean-Marie Barbier says work must be speeded up.

He pointed the finger at towns who had so far not taken action.

Nantes, Evry, Lyon, Gren-oble and Rennes were ahead of the game while others, such as Bastia in Corsica, was rated worst in France by members.

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