International Day of People (or persons) with Disabilities falls on December 3. If the ongoing engagement with and fight for human rights is important to you, then this day should be marked on your calendar. This day is endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO) alongside the United Nations. It is important because we often do not realize just how many people there are who are impacted by disability. We’ll help you out — the standing figure is currently at around one billion people! That’s essentially saying that one in every seven people in the world faces challenges and barriers due to some specific type of disability, so they need to be recognized.
History of International Day of People With Disabilities
First launched by the United Nations in 1992, the International Day of People with Disabilities is a crucial step in the right direction towards realizing inclusion, peace, security, and sustainable development in the future. These are some of the central tenets listed in the U.N.’s ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,’ which aims at “leaving no one behind.” It is a day primarily about ensuring that the well-being of people with disabilities is prioritized in policy, social welfare, and all aspects of socio-political life.
It serves the twofold purpose of both celebrating the lives of such persons as well as raising awareness of current realities and joining with them in championing their fundamental human rights. So full participation is the base expectation when observing a day like this. Originally, the name of this international observance was International Day of Disabled Persons, which was changed in 2007 to its current name. To keep engagement high, a different issue relating to disability is placed in the spotlight every year.
Interestingly, this day of observance also had an entire year and decade dedicated to it. It was in 1976 that the U.N. General Assembly declared that the year 1981 would be known as the ‘International Year of Disabled Persons and the focus was on equality across societal levels and aspects of social participation. Since a year was too limited for implementing potential and recommended changes, the U.N. General Assembly then decided to give a decade for nations to spur into action. Hence the period from 1983 to 1992 became the ‘ United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons.’
International Day of People With Disabilities Timeline
First President With A Disability Is Elected
Franklin D. Roosevelt becomes the first president with a disability, advocating for the rights of those like him.
The Rehabilitation Act Is Passed
The Rehabilitation Act is passed to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities.
Disabilities Get a Year
The United Nations General Assembly declares this the year for disabled persons — aiming for equality.
A Day of Observance is Instituted
The U.N. General Assembly establishes the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
International Day of People With Disabilities Faqs
Why do we celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities?
We celebrate this day to appreciate the contributions people with disabilities make to our societies and to express solidarity with them in their struggle to overcome the barriers and challenges they still face due to stigmatization and exclusion.
What term do we use for a disabled person?
The correct term, universally accepted, refers to them as a ‘person with a disability.’ By putting the person first, their humanity is more focused than their disability.
How do you describe someone with special needs?
Anyone with a disability is referred to as a person with a disability. They are not to be called ‘patients’ until and unless they are under the care of a medical professional or institution.
How To Observe The International Day of People With Disabilities
- Engage with disability
- There are some amazing books out there that people with disabilities are writing. Some popular favorites written by persons with disabilities include “The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love with Me” by Keah Brown, “Solutions and Other Problems,” by Allie Brosh, and “Girl at War: A Novel.” by Sara Novic. If fiction is not your cup of tea, or if you prefer moving pictures, there are lots of films and literature on disability for you to explore.
- Spread awareness
- Join an event organized around disability; it could be a conference, a mixer, or even by tuning into a local podcast. There are plenty of ways to get involved once you look, and inviting others to join is a great way to muster up more engagement.
- Learn the language(s) of disability
- As disability is not merely limited to physical impairment, it’s important to learn how to communicate better with people with various disabilities. From learning the sign language of your country to learning the actual correct terminology to use, there are multiple ways to better engage with a disability as a whole. Find the one who may benefit persons you know!
5 Facts About Disability That Are Worth Noting
- Disability and poverty do go hand-in-hand
- Societies with lower incomes tend to have a higher rate of disability.
- Women, children, and the elderly are vulnerable
- Men are less likely to develop a disability than women, children, and older adults.
- The most impacted age group
- Some studies show that young people aged 10 to 19 years have the highest rate of disability.
- 25% of 20-year-olds are a risk
- It’s said that before they retire, at least one in every four 20-year-olds will develop a disability.
- 9% of disabilities are due to accidents
- Accidents are probably the least of your worries about developing a disability.
Why International Day of People With Disabilities Is Important
- Because people are people
- If Dr. Seuss did not already teach you that, read “Horton Hears a Who.” Jokes aside, though, this day is important in showing solidarity and supporting the rights of people with disabilities in the quest for societal inclusion.
- Empowerment and change
- This day aims to get people talking about and engaging with a disability to effect change at micro and macro levels. Persons with disabilities need to be included and given the same access and opportunities that those without disabilities have as a right.
- Global Recognition
- Disability is a global phenomenon that affects about 15% of the world’s population. With such a large number of people living with disabilities, there is a need to recognize and celebrate them worldwide.