December 3rd is International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPwD)

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December 3rd is International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPwD).  International Day of Persons with Disabilities is a day sanctioned by the United Nations (UN) as a means to promote better understanding of the plight of persons with disabilities, and to bolster their dignity, rights, and well-being.

The Disparities People with Disabilities Face Throughout the World

On every continent, people with disabilities endure physical, social, economic, and attitudinal challenges and barriers that prevents them from becoming equal participants in our world.  People with disabilities make up a disproportionate number of the world’s poor, and experience extreme levels of inequality when it comes to accessing basic resources such as employment and educational opportunities, healthcare services, and social and legal support systems.  People with disabilities are at risk of experiencing a higher mortality rate than their able-bodied counterparts.  Though over one billion people, or approximately 15% of the world’s population, live with some form of a disability, the barriers and issues that plague this population and are experienced by its members remain greatly invisible on mainstream society’s agenda.

This year’s theme:  “Break Barriers, Open Doors”

The theme for this year’s IDPwD is:  “Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all.”  The theme aims to create more awareness surrounding disability and accessibility as a way to increase efforts regarding accessibility, eliminating all forms of barriers, and develop in-depth understandings on why it is imperative for people with disabilities to be full participants in our world.

Accessibility ButtonIn observance of IDPwD, several nations around the world, including the United States, are creating dialogue to raise awareness about disability rights and ways to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities in their respective countries.  In the United States, students and faculty at Syracuse University’s College of Law are leaving doors open within their building the entire day.  This is the law school’s way of literally breaking barriers to accessibility by opening its doors to people of all abilities.  This is only one example undertaken by those around the world to showcase their support for equality and justice for people with disabilities.

My Thoughts on IDPwD

Having a day such as this brings the harsh disparities faced by people with disabilities into the consciousness of those who may not be knowledgeable about such challenges.  Creating knowledge is one key step in the efforts to effect positive social and political changes for this population.  Once knowledge exists, dialogue can begin to develop programs and policies that will hopefully empower and not hinder.  Establishing Ramp Your Voice! is my way of creating the knowledge and discussions needed to gain more allies to the disability rights advocacy movement.  Every new post written and each new contact I make means that I, along with many other self-advocates, are changing the misconceptions placed on people with disabilities.  The fight towards equality and justice does not begin and end on December 3rd; it continues long afterwards as we band together to demand our place within the disability table, and on the mainstream level.

To fellow self-advocates, and disability allies, what are you doing to RAMP YOUR VOICE on International Day of Persons with Disabilities?  Share your proactive and empowering efforts with me by leaving a comment below, or by sending an email to Vilissa@rampyourvoice.com.

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