3rd December was International Day of People with Disabilities, being celebrated around the world both by the disabled community and the able-bodied and minded people alike. With our Paralympians achieving ever greater success at the Rio games earlier this year, it would be tempting to believe that everyone is aware of what challenges still remain for people living with disability and that barriers to living a happy and fulfilled life are no longer so relevant.
Well 147 medals, including 64 golds is fantastic news for those few who have got the support they needed, either from the National Lottery, from family and friends, or fellow able-bodied Olympians and is great for raising visibility, but equality of access to all aspects of what many able bodied and minded people take for granted still falls far short of parity.
With so many positive images and stories coming to general attention, it is now even more important for the ‘able’ many to not become complacent about the need for continued improvements in perceptions about disability and equality of social and economic provision of services and products. This is why the International Day of People with Disabilities campaigners continue to keep up the pressure to end marginalisation of people with special needs and their carers.
In 2018 it will be the 10-year anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, (CRPD). This more than any other international agreement has enshrined rights for people living with disability into national law and provided a framework for thinking positively about improving equality that could be adopted around the world. It was also one of the fastest ratified treaties put forward by the UN to date, which demonstrates a general willingness to promote progress.
The original objectives do not always make for simple interpretation in terms of practical application, it seems. The theme of what was then the International Year for Disabled People was:
“…full participation and equality, defined as the right of persons with disabilities to take part fully in the life and development of their societies, enjoy living conditions equal to those of other citizens and have an equal share in improved conditions resulting from socio-economic development.”
While physical access is getting better in the U.K. and disabled people are more prominent in public life, legal compliance to provide ‘reasonable’ adjustments by organisations are still short of acceptable. No surprise then that this year, the UN want to see just how successful the CRPD has been in achieving objectives across the world.
Themes for International Day for People With Disabilities have changed over the years since 1992 when it was agreed that there should be a specific day for campaigns around disability issues. These have reflected a variety of challenges faced by people with disabilities. So for instance issues highlighted by the organisers at the UN have included: support for independent voices, justice, empowerment and inclusion, amongst other challenges faced by the community.
This year, the focus for the global awareness raising campaign is ‘Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want’. This relates to this organisation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (see image) and in particular how these internationally agreed goals support moves towards a more inclusive and fair (“equitable”) world for people living with disabilities.
By focussing on a specific theme, this helps activists and event organisers create a unified approach for a wider audience to break through barriers to awareness more easily by creating familiarity with messages .
The changing themes help people generally to think about how those with disability are excluded from society by the various potential barriers. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals provide some great ideas for people in the disabled and wider community to both celebrate the day for achievements and think ahead to what else needs to be done.
Although the 3rd December has passed, it isn’t too late to get involved and there is some great ideas for how to get involved for individuals, businesses, schools and community groups on the IDPWD website, so, if you were thrilled and inspired by our Paralympians in 2012 or this year, why not play your part in getting the disabled community closer to where you are by getting in touch with a local group here and here to see how you can do something positive in your community.
For some extra inspiration, check out some fantastic quotes on disability and “superability”. Enjoy.
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