On the 5th of December ESN had a discussion meeting with Luigi Morgano, Patrizia Toia, Damiano Zoffoli and Giovanni Zucchetta from the European Parliament and Francesca Maltauro from European Commission - DG EAC on how to make Erasmus + more inclusive. The main focus of the meeting was to discuss what has been done and can be done in order to include disabled people in European mobility projects.
Erasmus + mobility is - in theory - open and accessible to everyone. In practice, unfortunately, this is not always the case, especially for disabled people. In fact, many disabled people are discouraged even before leaving.
The meeting took place in Brussels at the date close to the International Day of People with Disabilities (December the 3rd). The first part of the meeting included the panel discussion between the policy makers and the President of ESN João Pinto.
During the second part participants of the meeting had a chance to watch the video recorded by Alessandro Abbate - former Erasmus + student and President of the European Deaf Student Union with his reflections regarding student mobility for people with disabilities, as well as connect via Skype and hear the testimony from Giorgio Graziotti (skype) - former Erasmus + student .
The meeting was also well attended by the representatives of several biggest organisations for students and disabled people as European Network on Independent Living, European Blind Union, Autism Europe, European Youth Forum, European Educational Exchanges - Youth for Understanding and others.
Giving a bigger budget, sharing information about opportunities for people with disabilities through the wider range of channels and putting more pressure on decision makers were some of the suggestions from the participants of the meeting.
“I had a very good experience with Erasmus, I went three times on exchange and I know that most important is to find a good environment to fully enjoy the experience” - Giorgio Graziotti, former Erasmus+ student.