“Leadership and Participation of Persons with Disabilities Toward an Inclusive, Accessible, and Sustainable post-COVID-19 World,” themed International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2021.
↳a global public health issue
↳a human rights issue
↳a development priority
as recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and defined as “an umbrella term for impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions, denoting the negative aspects of the interaction between an individual (with a health condition) and that individual’s contextual (environmental and personal) factors. Disability is neither simply a biological nor a social phenomenon.”
Disability exists universally and comes across with some horrifying facts:
- One in seven persons in the world experience some form of disability, i.e., over 1 billion individuals globally. Of these, around 93 million are children.
- More than 80% of such people live in developing countries.
- Most of them face “accessibility” problems.
- If 70 million people need a wheelchair, only around 3-10 million have access to one
- 50% of the people with disabilities cannot afford healthcare facilities
- They are more likely to be treated unfairly at such facilities
- While around 360 million people suffer from hearing problems, the production of hearing aids cater only to 3% of such needs of developing countries and 10% of the world
- Having difficulty while communicating or communication disorders are major issues but are not considered disabilities in a significant part of the world.
Hence, in 1992, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) declared via a resolution the observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities every year on December 3. The day aims to encourage understanding of disability issues and rights, dignity, and health of persons with disabilities.
The International Communication Project (ICP) joins actively in the day’s observation to raise awareness about the communication disability and the problems people suffering from it face.
The theme of IDPD resonates with the add-on burden to the number of challenges overcome by people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Disability is one of the major aspects covered in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 Agenda. The issue finds its mention in exactly 5 of such goals (quoting the same below):
- “Goal 4: Guaranteeing equal and accessible education by building inclusive learning environments and providing the needed assistance for persons with disabilities.
- Goal 8: Promoting inclusive economic growth, full and productive employment, allowing persons with disabilities to fully access the job market.
- Goal 10: Emphasizing the social, economic, and political inclusion of persons with disabilities.
- Goal 11: Creating accessible cities and water resources, affordable, accessible, and sustainable transport systems, providing universal access to safe, inclusive, accessible, and green public spaces.
- Goal 17: Underlining the importance of data collection and monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals, emphasis on disability disaggregated data.”
All it requires is acceptance of our disabilities, acceptance of disabilities of people around us, the pain it causes, and working together to make the situation somewhat better. We may feel pain emotionally, mentally, and/or physically. All can be interrelated. Many small or big inclusions into or exclusions from our life can do wonders and provide relief even in the most pained situations!
Let no disability disable our mind, heart, and soul.
Avani Raj Arora