Across the world, one billion people – or 15 per cent of the worldwide population – live with a disability. Each year, International Day of Persons with Disabilities works to raise awareness and celebrate disability; and 2019 is no different.
For nearly 30 years, International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD) has had a goal to highlight the people around the globe living with a sensory, learning, physical disability or mental health condition and their carers or professionals working alongside the disabled community.
Initially launched in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly, IDPWD is working to empower the disabled community and pioneering in obtaining inclusiveness and equality in all corners of the world.
Now, in 2019 on 3 December – the annual day for IDPWD – many countries are looking at how they can ensure their policies and way of life is inclusive.
This year’s theme is set to highlight how the future is accessible for disabled people.
“From a governmental viewpoint there are many countries which are committing nationwide policy approaches aimed at improving the lives of people with disability, their family and carers,” enthuses managing director of IDPWD, Wade Lange.
“Many reforms focus on better inclusion for people with disability and seek to create a society that enables people with disability to fulfil their potenti al as equal citizens.
“From an individual level there are numerous amazing achievements from businesses, schools, universities, actors, singers, TV personalities, sports people and advocates that continue to be champions for people with disability.”
And, IDPWD is an important initiative working to change perceptions of disability, raise awareness, whilst working towards a more inclusive and accessible world for everyone.
As much as there have been significant steps forward, change is still necessary.
It is no secret that the disabled community can face disadvantages and continued discrimination here in the UK and further afield.
By starting the conversation around disability and what people can do, not what they can’t, awareness of disability and accessibility will be heightened.
Wade continues: “Inclusion is an on-going issue which is part obvious and part oblivious in people’s mind set. More must be done to design action plans and polices which remove barriers such as physical, communication and attitudinal that hamper individual’s ability to have full participation in society.
“Inclusion is multi –layered and must include fair treatment, universal design, adequate healthcare, accommodation, support services and education to name a few.”
Throughout 2019 countries across the world have been adapting and changing to become more accessible for the disabled community and their loved ones.
IDPWD is targeted at empowering disabled people to come forward to have their voices heard in a bid to promote worldwide understanding of what life with a disability is like.
With one fifth of people worldwide living with a disability, adapti ng and progression is essential. And it doesn’t stop with government policies and people working directly with disabled people, everyone has the opportunity to make some changes this IDPWD.
“Get involved,” enthuses Wade.“Participation makes the message permeate wider and deeper into people’s psyche. Further, [people can] take the time to reflect on their local environment and see how they can make it a better place, which is ultimately more inclusive.”
As an important event within the disabled calendar, more can always be done to achieve full equality. In a bid to continue transforming the world for the better, the United Nations has released their sustainable development goals on how the world can be more inclusive by 2030.
Within the report, it states clearly that disability cannot be a reason or criteria for lack of access to development programmes worldwide: emphasising the need for accessibility in all countries big or small.
Similarly, the New Urban Agenda – also published through the UnitedNations – has committed to continually promoting measures to facilitate equal access within public spaces.
This IDPWD, you can go into your community to help encourage change.
“Governments are vital in designing and developing policy change, but communities are necessary in enacting them,” continues Wade.
“There are one billion people in the world who have some form of disability and these figures indicate it’s a global significance, which must be reflected on like any other significant day of celebration.”
By getting involved with IDPWD you can make a step forward for a more accessible future, after all, you know your local community better than anyone else.
From sending a letter to the local council to request improved access in the town centre to participating in fundraising events or answering questions related to your disability: simple discussions are the pathway to change.
Yes, there is a long way to go before complete inclusion is facilitated, but with days such as IDPWD and your voice more can be done to enhance the importance of a more inclusive world for everyone to inhabit, regardless of ability.
IDPWD is a day to celebrate, feel empowered and work towards a better future for all disabled people.
THE FACTS AND FIGURES
In the UK, more than 3.7 MILLION disabled people are in work
An estimated 386 MILLION of the world’s working-age people have a form of disability
Worldwide, there are 220 MILLION young people living with a disability aged 15–24
VISUAL AND HEARING disabilities are the most prominent across the world
80% of people with disabilities live in developing countries