Disabled people do not just need equal access to public spaces and buildings - they need equal access to the democratic process too.
That was the message from Anthea McIntyre MEP in an impassioned speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, during a debate on involvement of disabled people in the 2019 EU elections.
Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, was speaking after attending the 11th Conference of State Parties to the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the United Nations in New York.
She told MEPs of a session titled Nothing About us Without Us which outlined the steps some countries were taking to ensure everyone can vote – including mobile polling stations, voting in hospital and portable polling booths that can enable a wheelchair user to cast their vote in private.
She said: "As a signatory (to the Convention), the EU and the Member States have a responsibility to take appropriate action to ensure that all 80 million European citizens with disabilities, including those with mental or intellectual disabilities, can fully participate in the electoral process.
"The European Parliament has traditionally been a strong ally in implementing the human rights of persons with disabilities and the 2019 European elections should be no different."
Following the debate she said: "I have said before that you can judge a country's character as well as its progress by its expectations of disabled people. The acid test is whether, and to what degree, disabled people are allowed, helped and expected to participate fully in the democratic process - as voters, politicians, ministers or leaders."