Thursday 03 December 2015 marks the 23rd International Day of People with Disability, a day of observance promoted by the United Nations. The International Day of People with Disability promotes awareness and supports critical issues for people with disabilities.

Access for all

People often only consider someone to be “disabled” if they have a physical disability; however, the term disability covers a range of conditions, which may be physical but may also be cognitive or emotional and the disability may present in a variety of ways. Because there are so many different types of disability, each with its own unique challenges, it is often difficult for people to understand them all individually. Everyone has a unique set of skills and interests and it is important that these are celebrated.

The United Nations state that an estimated 1 billion people worldwide live with a disability. Unfortunately, even in the Western world where there are laws such as our own Equality Act, people with disabilities do not always enjoy the same access to things such as transportation, employment and education as others. This is due to barriers that are in place which mean that those with disabilities are not always able to be included in all aspects of society.

Each year the International Day of People with Disability discusses a different theme, which provides a framework for discussing how people with disability are excluded from society and promotes the removal of these barriers. This year the theme is “Inclusion Matters: access and empowerment of people of all abilities”.

The societal image of someone with a disability is often one of the greatest barriers to the inclusion of people with disabilities in society. The International Day of People with Disability therefore aims to promote empowerment and create real opportunities for people with disabilities.

Under the main theme, International Day of People with Disability has three sub themes, or aims, is which, it is hoped, will be reached to further the fuller inclusion of people with a disability in society.

  • Making Cities inclusive and accessible for all

In 2016, the UN’s Third Global Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development will take place. International day of People with Disabilities will be used to discuss and present some of the best practices for ensuring that urban areas are fully inclusive as the UN estimates that by 2050, 66% of the world’s population will be living in cities. It is important that the “New Urban Agenda” ensures that the development of cities and towns in the future have infrastructure and services which are accessible, user-friendly and inclusive of all people’s needs.

The following video shows animated versions of real people with a range of disabilities going about their everyday activities and hobbies but also highlighting some of the difficulties that are faced.

Click here to watch video.

  • Improving disability data and statistics

International People with Disability Day will be used to highlight the measures that need to be taken to ensure that countries are collecting all of the necessary information about people with disabilities. The lack of data about the situations of people with disabilities means that development planning does not fully consider the needs of those with disabilities

  • Including persons with invisible disabilities in society and development

The UN states that millions of people worldwide live with a mental health condition and estimate that 1 in 4 people will suffer a mental health condition at some point in their lifetime. The UN estimates that a staggering almost 1 million people die due to suicide every year and it is the third highest cause of death in young people. Society also needs to be aware that people who sustain a disability in their lifetime,, for example a spinal cord or brain injury, have a higher risk of suicide as hey come to terms with their life changing injury. We at Bolt Burdon Kemp are aware of this risk and that a disability has a greater impact than just the physical aspects.  Where possible we obtain finding to help our clients both adjust to the physical environment they now face, but also assist with the emotional aspects that they and their families have to come to terms with.

People with mental health conditions can also be very vulnerable, and people with other invisible disabilities such as hearing impairments can also be at risk from exclusion from societal activities. The final sub-aim of International Day of People with Disability is to identify ways to raise awareness of those with invisible disabilities, highlight good practices and make recommendations for ensuring the inclusion of all people with invisible disabilities.

At Bolt Burdon Kemp, we are very aware of the difficulties that people with disabilities face in their day-to-day lives. Today, Raquel Siganporia, Head of Bolt Burdon Kemp’s Spinal Injuries team is taking part in the Breakfast Question Time Disability Debate.

This event has a panel of people with a range of disabilities, both hidden and visible, who will be able to answer any questions on how to deal with disability at every stage during working life, from the application process, interview stage, the working day and promotion. The event will discuss the barriers that those with disabilities may face, discuss good practices and recommendations for future improvement very much keeping with the ethos of International People with Disability Day.

The Breakfast Question time Disability Debate event will be attended by a range of people, not only by those with disabilities but by Human Resources professionals and recruitment professionals so that everyone involved in the working life is better aware of how to remove the barriers that are sometimes faced by people with disability.