Search This Blog

United Nations' International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Nov 16, 2013

International Day of People with Disability (December 3) is an international observance promoted by the United Nations since 1992. It has been celebrated with varying degrees of success around the planet. The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life. It was originally called "International Day of Disabled Persons". Each year the day focuses on a different issue.

For more information visit: International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December 2013

Background


Over one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability.

Persons with disabilities, “the world’s largest minority”, often face barriers to participation in all aspects of society. Barriers can take a variety of forms, including those relating to the physical environment or to information and communications technology (ICT), or those resulting from legislation or policy, or from societal attitudes or discrimination. The result is that persons with disabilities do not have equal access to society or services, including education, employment, health care, transportation, political participation or justice.

Around the world, persons with disabilities face physical, social, economic and attitudinal barriers that exclude them from participating fully and effectively as equal members of society. They are disproportionately represented among the world’s poorest, and lack equal access to basic resources, such as education, employment, healthcare and social and legal support systems, as well as have a higher rate of mortality. In spite of this situation, disability has remained largely invisible in the mainstream development agenda and its processes.

Evidence and experience shows that when barriers to their inclusion are removed and persons with disabilities are empowered to participate fully in societal life, their entire community benefits. Barriers faced by persons with disabilities are, therefore, a detriment to society as a whole, and accessibility is necessary to achieve progress and development for all.

Earlier, the international disability movement achieved an extraordinary advance in 2006, with the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention follows decades of work by the United Nations to change attitudes and approaches to disability that would ensure the full equality and participation of persons with disabilities in society. The Convention is intended as a human rights instrument with an explicit, development dimension. However, to realize equality and participation for persons with disabilities, they must be included in all development processes and, now more importantly, in the new emerging post-2015 development framework.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) recognizes that the existence of barriers constitutes a central component of disability. Under the Convention, disability is an evolving concept that “results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”

Accessibility and inclusion of persons with disabilities are fundamental rights recognized by the CRPD and are not only objectives, but also pre-requisites for the enjoyment of other rights. The CRPD (Article 9, accessibility) seeks to enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life and development. It calls upon States Parties to take appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have access to all aspects of society, on an equal basis with others, as well as to identify and eliminate obstacles and barriers to accessibility.

In spite of this, in many parts of the world today, lack of awareness and understanding of accessibility as a cross-cutting development issue remains an obstacle to the achievement of progress and development through the Millennium Development Goals, as well as other internationally agreed outcomes for all.

It’s It’s time to effectively implement the Outcome Document of the High Level Meeting and to break barriers and open doors: to realize an inclusive society and development for all!


The commemoration of this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities provides an opportunity to further raise awareness of disability and accessibility as a cross cutting development issue and further the global efforts to promote accessibility, remove all types of barriers, and to realize the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in society and shape the future of development for all!

What you can do to observe IDPD2013

Include: Observance of the Day provides opportunities for participation by all stakeholders – Governments, the UN system, civil society and organizations of persons with disabilities – to focus on issues related to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in development, both as beneficiaries and agents.

Organize: Hold forums, public discussions and information campaigns to help find innovative ways and means by which persons with disabilities and their families can be further integrated into their societies and development plans.

Celebrate: Plan and organize performances everywhere to showcase - and celebrate - the contributions made by persons with disabilities as agents of change and development in the communities in which they live.

Take Action: A major focus of the Day is practical and concrete action to include disability in all aspects of development, as well as to further the participation of persons with disabilities in social life and development on the basis of equality. Highlight progress and obstacles in implementing disability-sensitive policies, as well as promote public awareness to break barriers and open doors: for an inclusive society for all.



Themes from previous years


  • 1998: "Arts, Culture and Independent Living"
  • 1999: "Accessibility for all for the new Millennium"
  • 2000: "Making information technologies work for all"
  • 2001: "Full participation and equality: The call for new approaches to assess progress and evaluate outcome"
  • 2002: "Independent Living and Sustainable Livelihoods"
  • 2003: "A Voice of our Own"
  • 2004: "Nothing about Us, Without Us"
  • 2005: "Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Action in Development"
  • 2006: "E-Accessibility"
  • 2007: "Decent Work for Persons with Disabilities"
  • 2008: "Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Dignity and justice for all of us"
  • 2009: "Making the MDGs Inclusive: Empowerment of persons with disabilities and their communities around the world"
  • 2010: "Keeping the promise: Mainstreaming disability in the Millennium Development Goals towards 2015 and beyond" 
  • 2011: "Together for a better world for all: Including persons with disabilities in development"
  • 2012: "Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all"
  • 2013: "Break barriers, open doors: for an inclusive society for all"