Over one billion people in the world live with some form of a disability, however, societal pressures and attitudes have often excluded these people from participating fully in the community. When you’re talking about 15% of the world’s population, it’s obvious that change had to happen, for the equal representation, advancement, and development for disabled persons.

The United Nations (UN) launched the International Day of Persons with Disabilities to highlight the contributions of those with disabilities and raise global awareness of inequality. 

This year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities comes five years after the UN released the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a full-force instrument meant to establish equal rights for those with disabilities and change perceptions. Within this charge, there are also actionable items for creating an inclusive society and drafting policies that support it.

Globally, disabled persons are often the world’s poorest and lack access to basic rights, such as healthcare and education. During the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the UN encourages everybody to participate in the global dialogue on disability by:

  • Organizing forums and discussions to brainstorm ways about meeting challenges for the disabled, better incorporating disabled persons in society, and educating others about prejudices
  • Celebrating the contributions made by those with disabilities, whether in sports, arts, technology, politics, activism, or at home in the family

This year’s theme, for December 3, 2013, is to “break barriers, open doors: for an inclusive society for all.”

Every day at our pain clinics, we’re touched by the people who continue to challenge themselves and push towards their goals even in the face of a disability. At times, disability can seem secondary to the mental outlook and attitude of some of our patients. Today we’d like to celebrate and recognize all of them–for all that they achieve and all that they will achieve.

It’s your turn–how has a disability affected your life or how has your life been affected by a person with a disability? What can you do to help us move towards a more inclusive society? 

Image by Daniel Wetzel via Flickr

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