Netherlands to finally get more accessible for disabled people

Starting next year, all buildings, shops and public transport must become accessible for people with disabilities, the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament, decided on Thursday by voting for a 2006 UN treaty stating that disabled people must be able to fully participate in society. Businesses can gradually start with simple adjustments until their buildings are completely accessible, AD reports.

The ruling parties were divided on how strict the rules should be, especially towards business owners. The PvdA wanted to compel companies to make adjustments to their buildings so they can be accessed by people with disabilities. Coalition partner VVD was against this, fearing that it would mean great expenses to businesses.

The SGP and CDA came up with a compromise, which the majority of the Kamer accepted. Businesses will have to make simple changes to make their buildings more accessible if there is a formal request. Exactly what these "simple changes" entail will be determined later. The legislation will be implemented on January 1st next year at the latest.

PvdA parliamentarian Otwin van Dijk called this "a historic day for people with disabilities". "They will soon be able to use public transports, visit restaurants and consult websites without obstacles. Accessibility is becoming the norm, inaccessibility the exception."

Last week Public Health State Secretary stated that the government does not want to force businesses to make changes, but he is not unhappy with the adoption of the UN treaty. He called it "a very significant moment for a lot of people, for people with disabilities, but also for their loved ones". He believes it "a confirmation that everyone counts. Accessibility thus becomes self-evident."