Yesterday marked the 21st annual International Day of People with Disability, an international observance promoted by the United Nations that promotes an understanding of disability issues and mobilizes support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life. This year’s theme is Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all.
Over one billion people, approximately 15 percent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability. Around the world, persons with disabilities face physical, social, and economic discrimination and lack of equal access to basic resources, such as education, employment, healthcare and social and legal support systems, as well as having a higher rate of mortality.
Considering the challenges that people with disabilities face it is vital that the global community works to mainstream disability across all development sectors. While the Americans with Disabilities Act was a landmark achievement in the U.S. there is still much to be done.
In a press statement issued yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry calls attention to some of the glaring inequalities that Americans with disabilities encounter:
For the more than 50 million Americans with disabilities who want to travel, study, work, and serve abroad, including our 5.5 million veterans with disabilities, the protections that they have grown accustomed to under the ADA and other ground-breaking U.S. legislation simply do not exist in many countries. We can change that. We can help expand opportunities abroad for Americans with disabilities, create new markets for American companies, and be in the strongest possible position to push for critically needed improvements around the world.
On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we reaffirm our determination to ensure that our disabled brothers and sisters can travel abroad with the same dignity and respect that they enjoy here at home, and that disabled people around the world can at last share in the promises that Americans believe are a right, not a privilege.
Secretary Kerry’s call to action starts at the community level by supporting community organizations. Now is the time to support disability rights in our community, not just in advocating for policy change, but in supporting and funding the local healthcare solutions needed to fill this gap. For over 60 years Jawonio has done both, providing state-of-the-art services for our growing community and advocating at the state level.
For us, this day is not about celebrating disability, but instead about celebrating all that is possible for people with disabilities, and all that they are capable of. In fact, that is the essence of our ongoing #love_ABLE campaign, supporting our programs for children and adults. Please join us in marking International Day of People with Disability by directly supporting our campaign.