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Evolution of the European Disability Card in Slovenia

 

Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities commenced the EU Disability Card project in 2016 together with its partner, the National Council of Slovenian Organisations of Persons with Disabilities. EU Disability Card has been available since July 2017. Persons with disabilities can apply for the card in any of 58 administrative units across the country.

EU Disability Card entitles persons with disabilities in EU to commercial and other benefits offered in each country with cards being mutually recognized between EU member states. At this point the project includes the following countries: Slovenia, Cyprus, Belgium, Italy, Romania, Estonia, Malta and Croatia, but all EU member states are intended to enter the project.

Just like a Slovenian card holder can use the card in other EU states, foreign card holders visiting Slovenia for a shorter or longer period can use the card in this country. EU Disability Card entitles them to commercial benefits in diverse areas of life, especially in accessibility of transport, tourism, culture, sport and leisure.

Organisations and services they are offering are available on: http://invalidska-kartica.si and via application available for mobile devices  on iTunes and Google Play, respectively.

EU Disability Card is regulated in the Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities Act, which defines eligibility criteria for the applicants and the procedure of obtaining the card. The act was amended in the national parliament on 21 June 2017.

The aim of the project is primarily to facilitate a more equal treatment and specific benefits when traveling to other EU member states, especially when it comes to accessibility of transport, tourism, culture, sport and leisure, and in this way to contribute to implementation of UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Republic of Slovenia was among the first countries to ratify in 2008, Action Plan for Persons with Disabilities 2014-2021 and European Disability Strategy 2010-2020.

This project is a collaboration of the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities (MDDSZEN) and the National Council of Slovenian Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (NSIOS), as well as collaboration with the Ministry of Public Administration and Administrative Units (UE) in Slovenia, which issue the EU Disability Card to applicants. 

During the operation from July 2021 until the end of 2022, the EU Disability Card has proven to be a very useful instrument enabling person with disabilities who are EU Disability Card holders to claim a range of benefits from different providers participating in the operation, especially in the fields of transport, tourism, culture, sports, and leisure time. This meant the decision to carry on promoting the EU Disability Card and make it available to as many card holders as well as benefit providers as possible, was an easy one.

 

Improving access to products and services with a EU Disability Card

 

The objective of the operation “Improving access to products and services with a EU Disability Card (hereinafter: operation) is to contribute to a greater social inclusion of people with various forms of disabilities and utilize the benefits to help decrease the risk of poverty for people with disabilities.

 

Objectives:

  • Upgrade and establish a suitably accessible website and mobile application for the EU Disability Card for people with various disabilities in accordance with WCAG 2.1, at least AA level of compliance;
  • Increase the number of benefit providers and EU Disability Card holders;
  • Expert analysis of the physical accessibility of the benefit providers’ facilities, which is a substantive upgrade of the pilot project, as these activities had not yet been carried out.

 

Key activities:

  • Survey research among existing benefit providers and potential benefit providers, existing EU Disability Card holders, and among officials in administrative units.
  • Upgrades of the website and mobile application for better accessibility in accordance with WCAG 2.1 guidelines, regular maintenance for the duration of the operation, developing a sustainable plan for the EU Disability Card platform, and providing online accessibility based on the Accessibility of Websites and Mobile Applications Act (ZDSMA) that was adopted into Slovenian law based on Directive (EU) 2016/2102 on the Accessibility of the Websites and Mobile Applications of Public Sector Bodies.
  • Evaluating the physical accessibility of benefit providers in the field across Slovenia: this was done by an expert in physical accessibility at UIRS along with a team of physical accessibility evaluators with disabilities.
  • 2 types of free seminars: one for EU Disability Card holders to inform them about the way the EU Disability Card can be procured and used and the other for benefit providers to inform and educate them about physical and online accessibility, the needs and user habits of people with different disabilities, about what and how they can do things themselves and thus contribute to a greater accessibility of their offer of physical or digital services, products, and activities.
  • Presentation event, carried out by NSIOS at the end of the operation in December 2022.
  • Raising awareness and informing: potential and existing card holders, existing and potential benefit providers, the general and expert public, and the media at the national, regional, and local level.

 

Apart from providing benefits to persons with disabilities, the entire EU Disability Project is also raising awareness about persons with disabilities, their abilities, needs, wishes, way of life and especially that persons with disabilities are people who travel and in doing so experience personal growth, like everyone else. Therefore, positive effects of EU Disability Card certainly include a higher rate of social inclusion of persons with disabilities, not only in their home country, but also abroad as the card entitles them to benefits while traveling.

The operation has greatly contributed to a better quality of life for people with disabilities who are often marginalized due to smaller income, but with your help, the standard of awareness about the needs of vulnerable groups, which includes people with disabilities, has also been raised. EU Disability Card benefit providers play a crucial role in this.

The providers decide to join the list of EU Disability Card benefit providers of their own volition, and they also determine themselves what kind of benefits they wish to offer card holders. The benefits can take the form of discounts on services and products the providers offer as part of their regular commercial activities. This gives card holders the opportunity to get the services or products at a reduced price and the service provider can make a good impression and attract new clients from among the card holders. The benefit provider’s data is entered into the database by the administrator of the website and mobile application.

The value of the operation consists of the website and mobile app redesigns, promotions, seminars for cardholders and benefit providers, and the analysis of the physical and online accessibility of the benefit providers. These included labour costs, awareness raising and information costs, and the costs of outsourced services. The investment has brought a range of effects and benefits that cannot be evaluated with a monetary value, but are nonetheless priceless for the advancement of society in general.

More on the project is available on the website of the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities: http://www.mddsz.gov.si/en/

Frequent question and answers are available on: http://www.invalidska-kartica.si/pogosta-vprasanja.

Should you be unable to find the answer to your question there, feel free to send you query to us via the contact form on: http://www.invalidska-kartica.si/kontakt