International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December

Today (3 December) is the 20th International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The main theme of IDPD 2012 is “Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all”.

UN Enable, which sponsors and resources the Day, explains:

Over one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability.

Persons with disabilities, “the world’s largest minority”, often face barriers to participation in all aspects of society. Barriers can take a variety of forms, including those relating to the physical environment, to information and communications technology (ICT), or those resulting from legislation or policy, societal attitudes or discrimination. The result is that persons with disabilities do not have equal access to society or services, including education, employment, health care, transportation, political participation or justice.

Evidence and experience shows that when barriers to their inclusion are removed and persons with disabilities are empowered to participate fully in societal life, their entire community benefits. Barriers faced by persons with disabilities are, therefore, a detriment to society as a whole, and accessibility is necessary to achieve progress and development for all.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) recognises that the existence of barriers constitutes a central component of disability. Under the Convention, disability is an evolving concept that “results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”

Accessibility and inclusion of persons with disabilities are fundamental rights recognised by the CRPD and are not only objectives, but also pre-requisites for the enjoyment of other rights. The CRPD (Article 9, accessibility) seeks to enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life and development. It calls upon States Parties to take appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have access to all aspects of society, on an equal basis with others, as well as to identify and eliminate obstacles and barriers to accessibility.

In spite of this, in many parts of the world today, lack of awareness and understanding of accessibility as a cross-cutting development issue remains an obstacle to the achievement of progress and development through the Millennium Development Goals, as well as other internationally agreed outcomes for all.

The commemoration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities in 2012 provides an opportunity to address this exclusion by focusing on promoting accessibility and removing all types of barriers in society.

* International Day of Persons with Disabilities - http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=1597

* UN Enable: Development and human rights for all - http://www.un.org/disabilities/index.asp

Via Ekklesia in 2012 and 2011

* People's Review of WCA - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/tags/9441

* Spartacus report and movement - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/spartacusreport

* Welfare Reform Bill: Financial privilege, constitutional convention, fiscal and second chamber reform implications (Sue Marsh) - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/16280

* Responsible Reform: Changes to Disability Living Allowance (Spartacus Report) - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/responsiblereformDLA

* Betraying disabled people and welfare (Karen McAndrew) - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/14675

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 England & Wales License. Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.