The European Parliament was formed in 1979 and has been described as the most powerful legislatures in the world. The Parliament is a collective voice of 754 elective representatives from European Union member countries and in 2009 Dr. Adam Kosa became the first Deaf person to ever be elected to the parliament. Representing his home country of Hungary for a five-year term, Dr. Kosa has emerged from his background from an advocate of disabled persons to a career in politics. “There are 600,000 people in Hungary living with a disability, out of whom 10,000 are Deaf. Their rights are not represented properly and many people do not even know the difficulties they have to face every day,” stated Kosa, explaining why he decided to run for election.
Kosa holds a degree in law and as a member of the Budapest bar, worked as a lawyer and contributed heavily to advocacy. He became president of the Hungarian National Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in 2005 and President of the Hungarian National Federation of Disabled Persons’ Associations in 2008. He also sat on legal committees of the European Union of the Deaf, the World Federation of the Deaf, and the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf. While his career primarily worked with NGOs, he’s found that background a suitable launching pad for his political work in the parliament.
Kosa participates in three parliamentary committees including the Employment and Social Affairs committee, Transport and Tourism, and the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committees. “I am monitoring the situation of the rights of persons with disabilities in these committees with special attention to the question of physical and information accessibility not only in connection with everyday life but also with passenger’s rights and tourism.” He has contributed heavily to creation of law that supports inclusion of persons with disabilities, including writing reports that factor in to the European Disability Strategy.
Finding inspiration in his work comes simply for Kosa, with his own personal experiences to draw from. But he is passionate about all people who live with disabilities, taking his work beyond the Deaf community. “I am working for all people who are living with a disability. Being Deaf myself, I understand the difficulties disabled people have to face every day. If I can help diminish these difficulties for others, that is all the inspiration I need.” But working to legislate law that considers the needs of the Deaf and other disabilities requires proper representation in the political process, representation that does not currently exist. Kosa states that 10 percent of the population of the European Union lives with some sort of disability, and so 10% of the parliament should be made up of disabled persons. But this is not the case.
“This should change in the future. It would be important that those who are affected – persons who live with disabilities – are the ones representing their own interests.”
Dr. Adam Kosa is the winner of the DeafNation Inspiration Award for Politics in 2012.
By Anthony Mowl