The History of Disability Day
Everything started in 1976 when the United Nations General Assembly made the decision that 1981 should be the International Year of Disabled Persons. The years between were spent contemplating the hardships of the disabled, how opportunities could be equalised and how to ensure the disabled participate fully in community life. The main topic for discussion was how world governments could go about preventing the affect of disabilities in the first place, with much of the talk focusing on viruses and other illnesses that often lead to various kinds of disability. The years between 1983 and 1992 were later proclaimed the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons. During that time, all of the prior concepts and discussions became part of an overarching effort to improve the lives of disabled persons all over the world.
Disability equals diversity, not disadvantage
Since 1992, the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) has been celebrated annually on 3rd December around the world. The day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.
Around 15% of the world’s population, or one billion people, live with disabilities. People are often unaware of the large number of those living with disabilities around the world and the challenges they face. The aim of Disability Day is to encourage a better understanding of those affected by a disability, together with helping to make people more aware of the rights, dignity and welfare as well as the benefits of integrating disabled persons into every aspect of life.
Achieving 17 goals for the future we want
The theme for this year’s International Day is “Achieving 17 goals for the future we want”. This theme notes the recent adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their role in building a more inclusive and equitable world for persons with disabilities. This year’s objectives include assessing the current status of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and SDGs and laying the foundation for a future of greater inclusion for persons with disabilities.
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, information and communications technology (ICT), legislation or policy, or from societal attitudes and 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. 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 inclusion of persons with disabilities in every aspect of life.
How to celebrate Disability Day
Disability Day is typically utilised to hold valuable discussions, forums and campaigns relating to disability and communities are encouraged to organise meetings, talks and performances in their local areas. This could include hosting a musical or a play with a disabled person taking the lead in organising, promoting, producing and staging the chosen event. The aim is to tackle discrimination and challenge negative stereotypes by showing the world that those with disabilities are still vibrant, diverse, talented and equally valued members of society.