Hungarian lawyer, Ádám Kósa, is the first deaf person and sign language user to be elected to the European Parliament. On top of this success in June 2009, he has also recently been nominated as President of the European Parliament's Disability Intergroup. The re-established Intergroup was launched with a New Year's Cocktail in Brussels on the 27th of January. At the launch, the Intergroup also presented the Disability Pact for 2011 - 2021, proposed by the European Disability Forum (EDF). MEP Ádám Kósa has answered the following questions for readers of Independent Living News!
What made you decide to pursue politics?
In January 2009, the Hungarian EPP- ED Group asked me if I would accept to be a candidate to the European Parliament or not. After a short pondering, I decided that this opportunity could not be missed in the name of the Hungarian community of disabled persons. But apart from this, my only aim has always been to represent disabled people (and of course, the deaf community) according to my best knowledge.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a deaf person in your career?
To finish university!
How did it feel to be the first person to address the European Parliament in sign language?
It was great and as it was historical in its own way, it made me think over my life.
What is your priority as the Chairman of the Disability Intergroup?
To keep the members on the road we have decided to follow. We have appointed many tasks for the next few years.
Are other MEPs supporting your work for people with disabilities?
More than eighty MEPs expressed interest and support for the re-established Disability Intergroup. I think no more evidence is needed. We just have to keep solidarity with each other.
What actions do you consider the most important to increase accessibility for persons with a disability?
The ratification of the UN Convention on the rights of people with disabilities and the adoption of the Disability Pact by the Commission are both important, as well as the anti-discrimination directive for barrier-free info-communication.
How do you plan to work for the progress of Independent Living?
Civil organizations can refer to the principles of the UN Convention, the Disability Pact and the anti-discrimination directive when facing the government. Besides this, the European Union's funds have to be available for these aims as well.
What can ENIL members do to support your goals?
On one hand, I think to fight for those rights that their country has already ratified; on the other hand, to keep fighting in their personal lives to be independent. Most of our aims are common; we just try to achieve it in different ways. My way is to do my best in politics and through civil interest as well.
What advice would you give to other persons with a disability considering a political career?
I don't think there could be good advice. There is a fatherly approach - learn till the end, trust your decisions and never be too proud to confess your failures. Maybe the maternal approach would be more intuitional; if you have to be a politician, you will be!
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