International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Posted by Candace Cable in Life After Paralysis on November 30, 2016 # Advocacy and Policy

This week there’s a celebration for people with disabilities, (PWD) headed your way, the International Day of Person’s with Disabilities, IDPD on December 3rd. Ever since 1992 this day has been a bit of a people with disabilities ballyhoo, globally. The United Nations hosts a day long happening at their headquarters full of movies, photos, presentations to bring attention to greater advocacy action for connecting and creating access for PWD into society. I’ll be attending this event on December 2.

In this twenty first century, there are over 1 billion people living in the world that have disclosed they have some form of disability. I say disclosed, because that are thousands that will not come out or be brought out of hiding for fear of persecution from their fellow human beings. PWD not only face attitudinal barriers but also physical, social and economic barriers that keep them in a suffocating poverty not just in developing countries, but developed ones as well.

Even as PWD are the world’s largest minority group, the issue of disability disparity continues to remain invisible in most local, regional, national and international mainstream development frameworks and all processes. The United Nations have shined a spotlight on PWD since declaring The International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981 and followed that by a full decade of Disabled Persons spotlight from 1983 to 1992. But it takes more than putting light on a subject to get people to pay attention to the inequities’ PWD face, take action and make fair change. It has to become personal.

Since 1992, the annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disability, IDPD strives to promote and inspire an understanding of disability issues and get people going to eliminate those issues and increase the awareness of profits to be obtained from the involvement of persons with disabilities into every aspect of life, including educational, political, social, economic and cultural life. This 2016 year IDPD theme is “Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want.”

Risnawati Utami, founder and Executive Director OHANA, a non-profit organization in Yogyakarta, Indonesia that focuses on gender, disability rights advocacy and policy, and a wheelchair user states, “The Agenda 2030 or the new global development framework on Sustainable Development Goals is the milestone for stepping forward in implementing the disability inclusive development at local, national and global level. "Leave no - one behind" is the critical concept. For me, this is a new era when disability gets personal and is included in the process of a global development agenda.”

It truly is a “new era” as Risna tells us, “for people with disabilities, because the SDG’s have 11 references to people with disabilities in the 17 global goals for 2030. These goals can’t be actualized without the support of non-governmental organizations (NGO), disabled persons organizations (DPO), civil society groups and individuals.”

So what can each of us do to create a world where everyone contributes and belongs? First, becoming familiar with these goals is the first step. Taking the time to read the goals and then looking at both local and national government, to see where we are or aren’t supporting the SDG’s. This gives us perspective on what we can do. You may think that you are only one person and what you do doesn’t make a difference, but it does. Most people don’t know about the SDG’s, so talk to people about these global goals. And attend local events that support the SDG goals and IDPD.

The UN day-long celebration on December 2 will possibly be live-streamed, so check out this site for more information. Each time we educate ourselves and interact with people to share our knowledge about how to include people with disabilities into life’s activities we break down the incorrect myths that continue to surround people with disabilities and we all move forward, together.

I’ll be attending two IDPD events, an event on December 1 in Washington DC for USICD and one on December 2 at the United Nations. When I make the effort to be at these celebrations I learn more then I hoped for and I feel doubly empowered to continue reminding the world that people with disabilities are all people and that this is personal work that benefits everyone. What will you do to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities? Whatever you do, know it makes a difference!

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.