INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
Each year on December 3rd, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities promotes the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. The day raises awareness of the political, economic, social and cultural aspects disability affects people around the world.
More than 1 billion people in the world have a disability. At 15 percent of the world’s population, persons with disabilities account for the world’s largest minority. Furthermore, one out of every seven people is affected by disability.
Definition and Types
Disability is defined as a condition or function that is significantly impaired. Types of disabilities include:
- Physical impairment
- Sensory impairment
- Cognitive impairment
- Intellectual impairment
- Mental illness
- Chronic disease
Discrimination and Challenges
Some persons with disabilities live with multiple impairments. No matter what kind or how many impairments, the impact of disability on one’s life is profound. Disability often leads to poorer health. Additionally, a person with a disability may attain lower educational achievements. As a result, disability may lead to fewer economic opportunities. Those with disabilities also have higher rates of poverty. Many countries and cultures shun persons with disabilities causing them to live in isolation.
For many years, discrimination, lack of access to services, lack of social support, and ignorance about disability have been some of the main challenges persons with disabilities face. Even in today’s age of inclusivity, these challenges continue.
Another challenge persons with disabilities face is access to adequate health care. In developing countries, sufficient healthcare is especially difficult to access. Often people with physical impairments are forced to go without the necessary mobility aids. They live without supports like wheelchairs and other mobility devices. Children can’t attend school, and adults can’t work. In some cases, a simple procedure or rehabilitation improves function. Sadly, in many developing countries persons with disabilities go without. As a result, their function often declines.
In 2006, the UN adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD declared accessibility and inclusion as fundamental rights for persons of disabilities. Unfortunately, much still needs to be done for these rights to be recognized.
HOW TO OBSERVE DAY OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
Many organizations observe the day with fundraisers and inclusive competitions. Some organizations host awards ceremonies recognizing the achievements of persons with disabilities. Guest speakers discuss disability issues or share inspirational stories.
- Look for opportunities to be more inclusive of persons with disabilities
- Teach your children to treat those who are different with kindness and respect
- Donate to an organization that supports persons with disabilities
- If you’re a business owner, offers discounts to people with disabilities, as well as their families and caregivers
If you have a disability or have been affected by it, share your story on social media. When doing so share it with #InternationalDayOfPersonsWithDisabilities
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES HISTORY
The United Nations declared the year 1981 as the International Year of Disabled Persons (IYDP). This plan of action emphasized equal opportunities, rehabilitation, and prevention of disabilities. A significant outcome of the IYDP was the World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons. The UN adopted the programme in 1982. Additionally, the UN declared the years 1983 through 1993 the International Decade of Disabled Persons. In 1992, one year before the close of that decade, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed December 3rd as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.