UN Celebrates People With Disabilities During International Observance

A view of participants at the fourth annual session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, on the overall theme, “Enabling development: realizing the rights of persons with disabilities.” Photo courtesy of the United Nations.

Dec. 3 marked the international observance of International Persons With Disabilities Day, which began in 1992. This year’s theme was “Together for a Better World for All: Including Persons With Disabilities in Development.” In the United States, organizations and communities came together to celebrate this mission and increase understanding of disabilities worldwide.

National Council on Disability Issues Statement

The National Council on Disability released a statement in celebration of the occasion. In part, the statement said, “Conservative estimates by the World Health Organization suggest more than 1 billion people, an estimated 15 percent of the world's population, have a disability. Eighty percent of these individuals live in developing nations. Although people with disabilities make up a large segment of the global population, they continue to face worldwide discrimination and segregation at alarming levels. Moreover, numbers are likely gravely underestimated because people with disabilities are typically shunned, hidden from public view by their families and commonly excluded from community activities.

“Exclusion from the built environment prevents use of necessary services and resources that nondisabled populations take for granted. These barriers have a negative, spiraling effect. Physical barriers also keep people with disabilities from using voting centers, polling places, courthouses, administrative agencies, schools and embassies.”

Variety the Children’s Charity Gives Gift of Mobility

Variety the Children’s Charity of the United States presented at least one specially designed adaptive bicycle to a local child with a disability or a local organization serving children with special needs in 14 of its chapters. Since 2005, the Variety Kids on the Go! national mobility program has provided bikes, helmets and locks to children who have never owned their own bike; specialized bikes for children with special needs; walkers, wheelchairs, and strollers; and “Sunshine Coaches,” Variety’s specially equipped passenger vans.

"Practical action to mainstream disability is a major focus of International Day of Persons with Disabilities,” said Erica Lopez, national manager of Variety the Children’s Charity of the United States. Meet seven of the recipients.

Short Films Highlight Disability Issues

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) showed a selection of short films that were screened at UN Headquarters at the United Nations Enable Film Festival (UNEFF). The films were selected on the basis of content and message to help raise awareness of disability issues and further promote the full and effective participation of persons with disabilities in society. Among the featured films on mobility disabilities were

Other Happenings:

The NGO Committee on Mental Health organized a discussion on Dec. 8 to draw attention to issues concerning persons with psychiatric disabilities and women and girls with disabilities.