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International Day of People with Disability

By Mackenzie Simmons, ATC

December 3rd was International Day of People with Disability, which aims to promote an understanding of people with disability and encourage support for their dignity, rights and well-being.  This year’s theme was, “Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities.”

The day focuses on how people with disability are often excluded from society.  The day works on promoting removal of all types of barriers, including those in the physical environment; attitudinal obstacles; and information and communication technology difficulties.

Worldwide, there are an estimated 1 billion people with disabilities who face detachment from many aspects of society, such as transportation, employment, education and political participation.  It is essential for us to focus on the ability, not the disability of an individual.  By doing this, people with disabilities will be able to participate in society equally.

The 3 subthemes this year were to make cities inclusive and accessible for all, improve disability data and statistics and include people with invisible disabilities in society and development.

1. Make cities inclusive and accessible for all.  Many cities have made changes to help included people with disabilities, but there is still significant work to be done.  It is recommended to use this day to ensure future cities and services are more environmentally accessible, user-friendly and inclusive for all people.

2. Improve disability data and statistics.  There is a lack of data on disability and the situation of people with disabilities.  This creates an issue in trying to help people with disabilities feel included in society; without an accurate number, it is difficult to create opportunities for assistance.  It is recommended to use this day to research good practices to help strengthen the disability data collection.

3. Include people with invisible disabilities in society and development.  These invisible disabilities include people with mental and psychosocial disabilities, intellectual disabilities and hearing impairments.  People with disabilities often face social stigma and discrimination, as well as physical and sexual abuse.  Due to the stigma, they are also at risk of exclusion from education and social activities.  It is recommended to use this day to identify good practices of inclusive education and organize awareness raising initiatives.

To learn more about the International Day of People with Disability and see how you can make a difference, visit:

http://www.idpwd.com.au

http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=1637