The Rights of Persons with Autism and Intellectual Disabilities

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that parties undertake a number of general obligations, including:

To undertake or promote research and development of universally designed goods, services, equipment and facilities ... which should require the minimum possible adaptation and the least cost to meet the specific needs of a person with disabilities.

To undertake or promote research and development of, and to promote the availability and use of new technologies, including information and communications technologies, mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies, suitable for persons with disabilities, giving priority to technologies at an affordable cost.

The UN convention was ratified by the European Union in December 2010, marking the first time in its history that the EU became a party to an international human rights treaty.

The EU's European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 seeks "to empower people with disabilities so that they can enjoy their full rights, and benefit fully from participating in society." To achieve this, the strategy recommends, among other things, the importance of considering the needs of people with disabilities during the design of products, services, environments, education, and training.

It is estimated that between 5 and 15 million EU citizens have an intellectual disability. While the complexity of diagnosis, and the potential co-morbidity of Autism and intellectual disability, make it more difficult to determine the exact prevalence of Autism, it is believed to be of a similar magnitude. This represents a substantial group of EU citizens whose unique needs and preferences must be considered during the design of products, services, and environments. The inclusion of these individuals’ perspectives is an essential factor in the realisation of their fundamental rights, their empowerment, and their full participation in European society.