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The United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities

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The United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities | by Amorel Kennedy, CENMAC Administrator


 

The United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities was on Thursday 3 December this year, but it is commemorated across the world for a week – this year starting on Monday 30 November.   

It is now in its 18th year in its current form, having been established with this name in 1992.  Its history goes back to 1976, however, when the United Nations General Assembly called for plans that would afford people with disabilities full participation and equality to be formulated at regional, national and international levels within four years in time for 1981 which would be declared International Year of Disabled Persons.  The activities recommended in these plans, the World Programme of Actionwere to be implemented by governments and organisations from 1983-1992, this period being named the United Nations of Disabled Persons.  Goals were to enable persons with disabilities the same access to full participation in the life and development of their societies, equal living conditions and an equal share in improved conditions resulting from socio-economic development.  At the end of this decade, 3 December became identified as International Day of Persons with Disabilities and each year has had a different theme.  Some examples, which would have been particularly relevant to the work of CENMAC were: 2000 – Making Information Technologies Work For All, 2006 – E-Accessibility and 2014 – Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology. 

As a year comes to its end, many people will reflect on what has gone on during the year for them personally, for people they care about and more broadly in society and the world.  This year, of course, everybody’s life has been dominated by the world Coronavirus pandemic and, as such, the theme for this year’s annual celebration of people with disabilities could not be more relevant.  It is: ‘Not all Disabilities are Visible’ and even on the most simplistic level it is something that able-bodied people who probably don’t think about others with disabilities most of the time have had to consider in their daily lives.  For example, how many times recently have you been in a shop or maybe on public transportseen people not wearing face coverings and wondered why not as they look ‘alright’ to you?  It is possibly human nature to tend to presume or assume, but presumptions can often be erroneous. Or consider, how often have you wanted to do something or go somewhere, only to been completely thwarted by, or else had to adapt plans because of, lockdown conditions and found this difficult and frustrating?   I know I have thought and felt this.  According to a World Health Organisation World Report on Disability more than 1 billion people are living with disability.  Of these, an estimated 450 million are suffering from disabilities such as mental illness, chronic pain, sight or hearing impairments, brain injuries, diabetes, neurological disorders, learning differences and cognitive dysfunctions among others which are not immediately apparent.   

 


This year’s Not all Disabilities are Visible theme which is focusing on spreading awareness and understanding of disabilities that are not immediately apparent should help highlight the ongoing difficulties for people living with disability regardless of, but also compounded by, the pandemic


 

Hopefully, many of the difficulties and frustrations that able-bodied people have felt during the pandemic are finite.  This year’s Not all Disabilities are Visible theme which is focusing on spreading awareness and understanding of disabilities that are not immediately apparent should help highlight the ongoing difficulties for people living with disability regardless of, but also compounded by, the pandemic.  It is something that every individual, organization, company and government should reflect on at the end of this particularly difficult year if we are to create a society which really reflects the aspirations of the United Nations 44 years ago.  

Here are some links to IDPWD around the world this year which you may find interesting. 

 

Rainbow coloured logo with text International Day of Persons with Disabilities

According to a World Health Organisation World Report on Disability more than 1 billion people are living with disability. 

Four women with masks on and tshirts
(c) HSBC Bermuda

HSBC Bermuda will be engaged in a number of activities aimed at not only marking this important occasion but also in increasing awareness amongst all employees, of how best to support those colleagues challenged with invisible and/or visible disabilities, so they and those who care for them, can be their best at work.

Don’t forget you can share your CENMAC experiences for our CENMAC family to enjoy.


 

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