International Day of People with Disabilities


Background of the International Day of People with Disabilities

The international day for people with disabilities is commemorated on December 3rd on an annual basis.  It was established by the International Day for Disabled Persons (1981).  In 1976, the General Assembly proclaimed 1981 as the International Year of Disabled Persons (IYDP). This year called for a plan of action to promote awareness of disability with an emphasis on equalization of opportunities at a local, national and international level throughout the world.


The theme of IYDP was “full participation and equality”.  The purpose of this theme was to ensure that all people with disabilities have the right to live their lives independently on equal par as everybody else in the community in all aspects of political, social, cultural and economic aspects of life.

Other objectives of the Year included:

·       Increase public awareness.

·       Understanding and accepting people with a disability.

·       Encouraging people with disabilities to come together to speak up and express their views and take action in order to improve their quality of life.  This is known as Self Advocacy.

Due to the successs of the IYDP, the United Nations adopted the IDPwD in 1982 with the purpose of further enhancing the rights of people with disabilities throughout the world.  This is an important day every year for all people with disabities and their families as it provides a great opportunity to promote public awareness.

The IDPwD has a specific theme every year in order to have a clear focus as to what the issues people wish to highlight in their communities.  Some of thse include the following:

·       1998: Arts, Culture and Independent Living

·       1999: Access for all for the new millenium

·       2000: Making information technologies work for all

·       2001: Full participation and equality: The call for new approaches to asses progress and evaluate outcome

·       2002: Independent living and sustainable livelyhoods

·       2003: A voice of our own

·       2004: Nothing about us without us

·       2005: Rights of people with disabilities: Action in development

·       2006: E accessibility

·       2007: Decent work for people with disabilities

·       2008: Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Dignity and justice for all of us

·       2009: Making the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) more inclusive: Empowerment of people with disabilities and their communities around the world.

For more information regarding these themes please click here

As we can see the above themes cover a wide range of areas.  However, the theme for this years special day is “Keeping the promise: Mainstreaming disability in the Millenium Development Goals towards 2015 and beyond.”  The purpose of this theme is to remind policy makers around the world to ensure that people with disabilities are included in further enhancing the MDGs towards 2015 and beyond.


IDPwD can be celebrated in many ways such as conference, social events, networking together etc.  Below are just some of the events taking place around the world:

·       The United Nations are holding a conference from 10am – 2:30pm regarding the above theme at the their head offices in New York. Please follow this link for the agenda and more.

·       Ireland’s first ever International Film Festival is being run by Abara.  Abara has come about through the wonderful work of the Dochas and Disability International Development (DID) working group in partnership with Arts and Disability Ireland. For a schedule of the days events follow this link.

·       The European Day of people with Disabilities is another event that will be taking place. More information here

It is important that we all come together and celebrate all our achievements and let the world know that we are as equal as anybody else in our community and we can all live our lives to our full potential!




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