December 3 is the International Day of Disabled Persons. As I will be away for a conference on that day, I am posting this earlier. The theme for 2005 is “Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Action in Development”. Disabled people, just like everyone else, do not want to feel that we are special in any way. We are who we are. We try to lead a life as regular and normal as any other person as possible. However, because we are differently abled, many aspects of our lives are affected by an environment that has been unsuitably built and does not take into account our needs. Add that to a generally skewed perception of our ability to determine the direction of our own lives, we have, a lot of times, been reduced to a group of people who need welfare.
What we want are opportunities to be included into society’s activities, not sympathies that are given as an afterthought. We, the disabled people, deserve to lead a fulfilling life. People with impairments can be as productive as anybody else if given the opportunity to do so on a level playing field. Our impairments do not disable us. It is the disenabling factors such as environmental barriers, prejudices and discrimination that limit our abilities and makes us what we are now commonly known as – disabled persons. Removing all those factors will be the first step towards giving us our rights, enabling us in many ways and allow equal participation and opportunities.
Below is the blurb from United Nations Enable on the International Day of Disabled Persons 2005:
The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons, 3 December, aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life. The theme of the Day is based on the goal of full and equal enjoyment of human rights and participation in society by persons with disabilities, established by the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, adopted by the General Assembly in 1982.
How the Day may be observed
Involve: Observance of the Day provides opportunities for participation by all interested communities – governmental, non-governmental and the private sector – to focus upon catalytic and innovative measures to further implement international norms and standards related to persons with disabilities. Schools, universities and similar institutions can make particular contributions with regard to promoting greater interest and awareness among interested parties of the social, cultural, economic, civil and political rights of persons with disabilities.
Organize: Hold forums, public discussions and information campaigns in support of the Day focusing on disability issues and trends and ways and means by which persons with disabilities and their families are pursuing independent life styles, sustainable livelihoods and financial security.
Celebrate: Plan and organize performances everywhere to showcase – and celebrate – the contributions by persons with disabilities to the societies in which they live and convene exchanges and dialogues focusing on the rich and varied skills, interests and aspirations of persons with disabilities.
Take Action: A major focus of the Day is practical action to further implement international norms and standards concerning persons with disabilities and to further their participation in social life and development on the basis of equality. The media have especially important contributions to make in support of the observance of the Day – and throughout the year – regarding appropriate presentation of progress and obstacles implementing disability-sensitive policies, programmes and projects and to promote public awareness of the contributions by persons with disabilities.
Source: United Nations Enable – International Day of Disabled Persons – December 3, 2005