Each year, 3 December marks International Day of People with Disabilities, a United Nations-sanctioned day celebrated worldwide. This year, hidden disabilities and the impact of the coronavirus on isolation and mental health are in the spotlight.
On 3 December every year, International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPWD) is celebrated, highlighting the importance of removing barriers for all people living with a disability, both visible and invisible.
The day raises awareness of the importance of creating inclusive, accessible and sustainable societies in order to build an accessible future for disabled people.
Bringing to light the barriers faced by disabled people in all aspects of their lives, from day-to-day accessibility to joining the workforce and reaching goals, IDPWD is a key event in the disability calendar all over the world.
In 2020, the awareness day is particularly important due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on mental health. Throughout the pandemic people with disabilities have felt isolation, disconnect, disrupted routines and diminished services than other groups in society, leading to greater concerns around mental wellbeing.
As much as it is crucial for the world to continue to fight against the coronavirus, it is also crucial to raise awareness of the support disabled people need during this time and in the future.
Awareness and understanding
This December during the annual celebration of people with disabilities, the IDPWD 2020 theme of not all disabilities are visible will focus on spreading awareness and understanding of disabilities that are not immediately apparent.
The day will focus on: mental health conditions; chronic pain or fatigue; sight or hearing impairments; diabetes; brain injuries; neurological disorders; learning differences; cognitive dysfunctions and more.
Awareness of hidden disabilities has risen in recent years with the introduction of things like the sunflower lanyard scheme and not all disabilities are visible signage around toilets and parking spaces, but more is needed to support the estimated 450 million people living with a mental or neurological condition throughout the world.
Stigma and discrimination are still rife around hidden disabilities, with more awareness needed to break dow barriers for these people as well as the disability community as a whole.
For the 69 million people estimated to sustain traumatic brain injuries each year worldwide and the one in 160 children identified as being on the autism spectrum, greater understanding and education around hidden disabilities is key to living a fulfilled life and feeling accepted.
This year’s IDPWD is completely virtual. The main way to get involved, help spread awareness and contribute to the breaking of barriers for the disabled community is to get online.
Using social media, disabled people can share their experiences, what they wish people knew about their disability, and the barriers big and small that they face in society.
A greater conversation around hidden disabilities will help to reduce stigma and create a more inclusive, accessible future for the disability community.
Learn how to get involved and what support is available is available by visiting www.idpwd.org.