World Day for Persons with Disabilities

World Day for Persons with Disabilities

World Day for Persons with Disabilities, also referred to as the International Day of People with Disability, is observed December 3rd. Originally established by the United Nations in 1992, this international holiday is meant to promote the awareness and understanding of all forms of disability. This day has been decades in the making, and each year has a special theme.

While the United States has long-supported people with disabilities, not everyone gets this type of recognition in other nations. Before the founding of this holiday, many disabled individuals were denied rights and shunned upon. The United Nations founded the World Day for Persons with Disabilities in part to help everyone gain the rights they deserve. At the same time, many of these rights come in the form of support.

The International Day of People with Disability originally stems from a project started by the United Nations in 1976. That year, the U.N.’s General Assembly decided to dedicate an entire year to awareness and increased rights for people with disabilities. The dedication year was slated for 1981. Coined as the International Year of Disabled Persons, the United Nations worked fiercely to increase the rights of people with disabilities, including the education sector. The organization also fought to increase research for disability prevention.

To further enhance the agenda of 1981’s goals, the United Nations declared 1983-1992 as the Decade of Disabled Persons. However, a decade isn’t simply enough when it comes to advocating for the rights of the disabled. In fact, this is a year-round battle since new issues constantly come about. For this reasons, the United Nations decided to declare December 3rd as the World Day for Persons with Disabilities in 1992.

While considered a holiday, the International Day of People with Disability is more than just a day of observance. The purpose of this day is to increase awareness across the world for a variety of disabilities, ranging from physical, mental and emotional ones. Citizens in various countries are encouraged to seek political action to help others gain the rights they deserve.

In many cases, cultural views have changed thanks to the increased awareness this holiday has brought to certain nations. Not only are people with disabilities are treated equally, but they are also given the economic and social opportunities they may have previously been denied. Such scenarios may be difficult to imagine in the United States, but the fact is that many disabled persons are still not treated equally in other nations.

To keep the momentum of the holiday going, the United Nations implemented themes for each World Day for Persons with Disability starting in 1998. In 2012, the theme is slated to be: “Removing barriers to create an inclusive society for all.” This theme will increase awareness about the many obstacles that disabled persons have to go through in order to exercise equal rights. Examples include a lack of technology, or denied access to mobility devices.

Themes from recent years include:

  • 2011: “Together for a better world for all.”
  • 2010: “Keeping the promise: Mainstreaming disability in the Millennium Development Goals toward 2015.”
  • 2009: “Empowerment of persons with disabilities and their communities around the world.”
  • 2008: “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Dignity and justice for all of us.”
  • 2007: “Decent work for persons with disabilities.”
  • 2006: “E-accessibility.”

There are many ways you can celebrate World Day for Persons with Disabilities. While the day may hit home if you or a loved one is disabled, it is important that everyone gets involved to improve the lives of others. Some cities hold forums and public meetings to discuss local issues while others choose to hold parades and other celebrations.