Countries around the world use December 3 as a platform to advocate for an inclusive society for the more than one billion people worldwide who live with some form of disability.
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities, established in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly to be recognized on the third of December each year, promotes awareness of disability issues as well as the gains to be made from the integration of persons with disabilities into society. This year’s theme: Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology.
In the United States specifically, the day’s significance provides a platform for disability advocates like Paralyzed Veterans of America to push for the U.S. Senate to ratify the Convention for the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD), a treaty modeled after the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
“It’s great to have this day because it puts a spotlight on disability issues,” said Lee Page, associate advocacy director at Paralyzed Veterans of America. “It also increases pressure for the CRPD by looking back 21 years ago when U.N. international organizations came together and focused on disability. They recognized the fact that there was a need and focused on this specific date to be recognized every year.”
The CRPD has been ratified by 138 countries and was signed by President Obama in 2009. Despite bipartisan support in the Senate, ratification of the treaty failed in 2012 on a 61-38 vote, with 67 votes needed for ratification.
A major focus of the Dec. 3 observance is practical and concrete action to advance the participation of individuals with disabilities in social life and development on the basis of equality. Individuals can voice their support for these issues using social media, or attend one of the many events held around the world, including the UN headquarters in New York.
“The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an important event and Paralyzed Veterans of America as a veterans service organization and an advocate for the disability community recognizes it as a day of importance and also utilizes it in our advocacy as we are pushing for the CRPD,” Page said.
Learn more about Paralyzed Veterans of America’s advocacy on behalf of all people with disabilities
Brittany Ballenstedt is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in several publications, including Government Executive, National Journal, Technology Daily and NextGov.com.