A global observance – International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPwD) is observed on December 3 with the aim to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability and celebrate their achievements and contributions. Recent reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest that around 10% of the world’s population, or roughly 650 million people, live with a disability. According to CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, about 1 in 4 adults (61 million Americans) experience a disability that impacts their major life activities. The annual one-day campaign aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and generate awareness about the situation of people with disabilities in every aspect of life.

Earlier, the UN Decade of Disabled Persons was held from 1983 to 1992 to enable governments and other organizations to implement adequate measures to improve the life of disabled persons around the world. However, on October 14, 1992 this observance was ended and the UN General Assembly (under its resolution 47/3) officially proclaimed December 3 – as the “International Day of Disabled persons”. Yet again, on December 18, 2007, the assembly changed the observance’s name from the “International Day of Disabled Persons” to the “International Day of Persons with Disabilities”. The new name was first used in 2008.

The annual campaign aims to highlight the day-to-day challenges faced by people with mobility issues and bring attention towards the availability of various types of life-changing accessibility devices such as – stair lifts, handicap vans, specialty vehicles, wheelchair lifts, and other types of adaptive devices that help improve the mobility and independence of people to a great extent. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires all public buildings and businesses to be handicap accessible. This means that all the places that people go for purposes such as work, play, education, business, and services should not have any barriers and need to be completely accessible to all users. Incorporating several changes like – removing barriers such as narrow entry doors, building ramps for wheelchair access, installing elevators, widening doorways to accommodate wheelchairs and setting up platform lifts (where there is no space for ramps) can enhance accessibility in buildings and public spaces.

Each year, the IDPwD observance focuses on different unique themes. The theme for the 2018 campaign is – “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”. The theme focuses on empowering persons with disabilities for the inclusive, equitable and sustainable development (as envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development). The 2030 Agenda pledges to “leave no one behind” and empowers people with disabilities to be active contributors to society (both as beneficiaries and agents of change). Countries across the world celebrate this day by conducting a wide range of activities like – designing posters, media releases, holding discussions, open forums and talks related to this campaign.

Join the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPwD) celebration! Raise awareness about the need for building an accessible society for all.