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    Karl Lottes, MA, RSW

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Today is International Day of Persons with Disabilities.  This year, the United Nations has declared the theme to be: Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all.

“Over one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability.

Persons with disabilities, “the world’s largest minority”, often face barriers to participation in all aspects of society. Barriers can take a variety of forms, including those relating to the physical environment or to information and communications technology, or those resulting from legislation or policy, or from societal attitudes or discrimination. The result is that persons with disabilities do not have equal access to society or services, including education, employment, health care, transportation, political participation or justice.”

Read more

15% of world population disabled

The United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO)  and the World Bank have collaborated on the first ever World Report on Disability.

From the factsheet:

Disability prevalence is high and growing. There are over one billion people with disabilities in the world, of whom between 110-190 million experience very significant difficulties. This corresponds to about 15% of the world’s population and is higher than previous World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, which date from the 1970s and suggested a figure of around 10%. The prevalence of disability is growing due to population ageing and the global increase in chronic health conditions. Patterns of disability in a particular country are influenced by trends in health conditions and trends in environmental and other factors –such as road traffic crashes, natural disasters, conflict, diet and substance abuse.

From the full report:

Disability and human rights
Disability is a human rights issue because:

  • People with disabilities experience inequalities – for example, when they are denied equal access to health care, employment, education, or political participation because of their disability.
  • People with disabilities are subject to violations of dignity – for example, when they are subjected to violence, abuse, prejudice, or disrespect because of their disability.
  • Some people with disability are denied autonomy – for example, when they are subjected to involuntary sterilization, or when they are confined in institutions against their will, or when they are regarded as legally incompetent because of their disability.

The report describes:

  • the global picture of disability;
  • health care;
  • rehabilitation;
  • assistance and support;
  • enabling environments (removing barriers);
  • education; and
  • work and employment.

In addition to more specific recommendations in each section, it provides the following nine broad recommendations:

1:  Enable access to all mainstream policies, systems and services
2:  Invest in specific programmes and services for people with disabilities
3:  Adopt a national disability strategy and plan of action
4:  Involve people with disabilities
5:  Improve human resource capacity
6:  Provide adequate funding and improve affordability
7:  Increase public awareness and understanding of disability
8:  Improve disability data collection
9:  Strengthen and support research on disability.

Full details are available on the WHO website:  http://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/en/index.html