International Day of Persons with Disabilities


SEATTLE, Washington — The United Nations established the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD) in 1992. IDPWD is meant to promote “the well-being and welfare of people living with disabilities.” The day is a celebration of the achievements and contributions of individuals with disabilities, but its mission goes beyond that. On this day, people, organizations and charities are called to advocate for accessibility and acceptance of people with disabilities.  H.Res. 738 seeks to acknowledge and further the goals of IPDWD.

Over the years, there has incremental progress. The U.N. has been instrumental in spearheading much of that progress. For example, the U.N. created the Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons in 1975. By 1982, the U.N. started the World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons. Ten years later, the U.N. proclaimed December 3 as the International Day of People with Disabilities. The U.N.’s Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities came out in 1993. In 2006, the U.N. adopted the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which was ratified by 163 countries.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities

IDPWD advocates for the acceptance of and accessibility for individuals with disabilities. The main goal of IDPWD is to end stigmatization and discrimination of people with disabilities. IDPWD encourages five primary actions to accomplish this goal.

  1. Reflection: The day encourages everyone to consider their past actions and identify future goals.
  2. Celebration: It highlights the “value of diversity of our global community” and the role all people play regardless of their abilities.
  3. Learning: The day promotes understanding and learning from the experiences of individuals with disabilities.
  4. Optimism: IDPWD is focused on the future and on “the creation of a world where a person is not characterized by their disabilities, but by their abilities.”
  5. Action: The day calls “all people, organizations, agencies and charities” to support IDPWD and commit “to create a world characterized by equal human rights.”

The Resolution

H.Res. 738 “supports the goals and ideals of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.” It declares the importance of protecting the rights and liberties of people with disabilities. The Resolution notes that more than 1 billion people around the world have a disability of some kind. At least 80 percent of those people live in developing countries.

According to the Resolution, individuals with disabilities often face work and political discrimination and are more likely to live in poverty. H.Res. 738 contends that disability issues are a factor in all areas of foreign assistance. For instance, “children with disabilities are more likely to be malnourished, subject to violence, isolation, and abuse, and less likely to attend school than children without disabilities.”

Sponsored by Rep. Dina Titus [D-NV-1], H.Res. 738 was introduced in the House on December 3, 2019. The resolution was then referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and House Committee on Education and Labor for consideration. H.Res. 738: Recognizing the goals and ideals of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is in the first stage of the legislative process. If the resolution passes, it will represent another important step in destigmatizing disabilities and supporting those living with disabilities to live full and productive lives.

Sarah Frazer

Photo: Unsplash


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