U.S. Speaker Comes to Poland to Discuss Access and Equality for People with Disabilities

As part of the Embassy’s U.S. speaker program, David Capozzi, Executive Director of the U.S. Access Board, came to Poland for a week-long program to share the American experience in ensuring accessibility for people with various disabilities. Mr. Capozzi visited four cities, meeting with Polish national and local authorities as well as a network of NGOs while presenting at several conferences on the topic of access for people with disabilities during his visit.  The successful visit ties into the Embassy’s efforts to promote equal rights for all and follow on meetings and discussions are already planned between Mr. Capozzi and Polish counterparts.

In Warsaw, Director Capozzi met with Minister Krzysztof Michałkiewicz, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Policy and Government Plenipotentiary for People with Disabilities, as well as with Under Secretary Paweł Chorąży and his team at the Ministry of Development.  He also met with Warsaw authorities: Karolina Malczyk, Mayor’s Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment and newly appointed Plenipotentiary for Accessibility, Donata Kończyk.  He shared his expertise and spoke about achievements and challenges of accessibility in the USA.  In a meeting organized in the Polish Senate by the Forum of Accessible Cyberspace and the Parliamentary Team for People with Disabilities, Director Capozzi met with Senate Member Jan Filip Libicki and spoke about the American experience in monitoring accessibility.

In Gdynia, a city on the forefront of accessibility in Poland, Mr. Capozzi spoke at an accessibility conference organized by the city on the importance of accessibility standards based on the U.S. experience.  He also had a fruitful consultation meeting with the ON Inclusion 14-20 expert group, a network of NGOs working for people with disabilities. He also met with Pomeranian Marshal’s Office in Gdańsk; and in Kraków, he spoke at a conference devoted to people with disabilities in the workplace.

The U.S. Access Board is an independent federal agency that promotes equality for people with disabilities through leadership in accessible design and the development of accessibility guidelines and standards. Created in 1973 to ensure access to federally funded facilities, the Board is now a leading source of information on accessible design.  The Board develops and maintains design criteria for the built environment, transit vehicles, telecommunications equipment, medical diagnostic equipment, and information technology.  It also provides technical assistance and training on these requirements and on accessible design and continues to enforce accessibility standards that cover federally funded facilities.