It’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities this week (3 December), so I thought it’d be a good day to share some knowledge with you based on my research so that we can all shift our awareness and mark this day together!
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of life. The commitment to realising the rights of persons with disabilities is not only a matter of justice; it is an investment in a common future.
This topic reflects a growing understanding that disability is part of the human condition and WHO estimates that more than one billion people – about 15% of the world’s population – experience some form of disability.
So, it’s crucial for us to understand what must be done to break the barriers which segregate people with disability, in many cases forcing them to the margins of society. While WHO, UN and other governmental organisations are putting in efforts to share the message and make progress on nationwide work on disability and inclusivity, I come to ask myself what I can do to bridge this gap we leave between people with disabilities and the rest of society.
And with a bit of research, I found that the first small step each one of us can make is find out more about disabilities and change the way we look at disability. We need to understand more as it affects lots of people in different ways. Not all disabilities are visible, so don’t assume someone does or does not have a disability. Everyone is different. Sometimes, people with disabilities may act, feel or think differently from you. Don’t assume that for this reason someone has a disability, simply treat him/her as an individual because all people should be treated equally.
Remember to be respectful in your words and actions. For example, the other day I came across a person who was deaf at my workplace, and when I realised she was deaf, I just smiled with my eyes (the smile under the mask!) and used my body language to try and explain I don’t know sign language and I am sorry. This small encounter made me think and realise how this barrier makes us lose so much. As I walked away, I felt angry about the society where not everyone knows sign language and thus, makes deaf people excluded in a way.
This is just one small aspect of the bigger picture of this topic, however, it’s a place to start. I decided I will start learning sign language, and even if it means I only know a few words, it’s still progress towards a more inclusive society, and hopefully a way to make someone’s day better someday.
Hopefully, this post leaves you inspired to think more about people with disabilities and do more research on your own, as there are some great initiatives and projects out there. It’s also our responsibility to push governments to do more and create a world where everyone is equal and has the same opportunities in all parts of everyday life.
Use your social media to your advantage. It’s so easy to spread awareness through platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, you can raise or donate money and direct people to the right resources. If you’re a dog person, you could volunteer to train a service dog, too! There are so many ways to help, if only you are willing to donate your time.
Thanks for reading!