December 3: United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities

UN logoEach year on December 3, the United Nations observes the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This year’s theme is “Removing Barriers to Create an Inclusive and Accessible Society for All”.

People living with disabilities encounter barriers in all aspects of society, including attitudinal, technological, organizational, and architectural on a daily basis. December 3 is an important day for bringing awareness to these restrictions on people with disabilities and advocating for change.

This theme is meant to bring awareness to the fact that persons living with disabilities do not have equal access to society or services in communities across the world, including education, health care and political involvement. The UN advocates that communities benefit when the barriers placed on those with disabilities are removed, with accessibility contributing to greater progress for all.

Get Involved!

On December 3, you can help by selecting a relevant issue of exclusion and accessibility that applies to those living with physical disabilities in your community. You can do this by including shareholders, organizing a campaign, celebrating contributions made by those with disabilities and taking action to remove those barriers. Suggested themes include: education, health care, employment, transportation, travel and tourism, and sports.

The observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities strives to promote awareness of disability issues, as well as gain support for the rights of persons with disabilities. It also aims to increase awareness of successes made from the integration of persons with disabilities in all aspects of life – political, social, economic and cultural.

For more information, visit: http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=1597.

Easter Seals Ontario would like to offer the following general etiquette tips to help individuals understand how disability affects lives and, most of all, help people see the person ahead of their disability.

General Etiquette:

  • Treat people with disabilities as you yourself like to be treated.
  • Make no assumptions or generalizations. For instance, do not assume that persons with disabilities are sick, unintelligent, poor, dependent, unemployed or helpless.
  • Pity is not an emotion that people with disabilities appreciate. Such feelings reflect the myth that their lives are tragic, unfulfilling and miserable. In most cases people have adjusted to their particular disability and lead productive and integrated lives.
  • People with disabilities are not all alike. They have a wide variety of skills and personalities and should be treated as individuals.
  • There are ranges of abilities and not everyone requires or wants your help. Don’t insist or be offended if your offer to assist is not accepted.
  • Do not be afraid to ask what you can do to help. Relax and accept that the person with a disability is exactly that, a person who happens to have a disability.
  • Ask, listen and don’t assume are the three most important tips.