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Watch our 60th Anniversary video that honours and remembers the civil rights history of people with intellectual disabilities in BC. Read more about our history here.

Break Barriers, Open Doors: International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Summary: 
December 3 marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, a global day of action for an inclusive world where everyone is welcomed, supported, and included. This year's theme is “Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all."

In 2010, Canada ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention recognizes the need for State Parties to enact policies and laws that allow people with developmental disabilities to live full lives in the community. The ratification was an important achievement by persons with disabilities and the disability rights movement in Canada.

Here in BC, the provincial government has a responsibility to ensure that all programs and policies are in line with the Convention, including full inclusion in schools, workplaces and the community. The use of restraint and seclusion in schools implicates the Convention, as does any form of institutionalization of persons with disabilities. On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, it is urgent to ensure that Canada - and all of us - live up to the promise of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and truly break barriers and open doors to a fully inclusive society. 

People First of Canada issued a statement marking the occasion, saying:

In the disability community, we have definitely broken some barriers and made some great advances over the years. For Canadians with intellectual disabilities, large institutions are becoming a thing of the past as most provinces and territories have either closed or committed to close them...But some barriers are easier to overcome, and some doors are easier to open than others. As barriers go, the biggest one facing people with disabilities is the hardest one to see - attitude.For people with disabilities to have their rightful place in society, they must be socially included. In order to be socially included, we need to open our hearts and our minds to people with disabilities. We need to be open to being friends, companions, neighbours, and to the relationships that make us human. Because relationships are what life is all about.

The Canadian Association for Community Living, of which Inclusion BC is the BC affiliate, issued its national report card on inclusion of Canadians with intellectual disabilities to mark the International Day.

The BC Self Advocacy Foundation produced a video all about breaking barriers and the UN Convention:

The United Nations has provided a series of resources on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities:

Background

Over one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability!

Around the world, persons with disabilities face physical, social, economic and attitudinal barriers that exclude them from participating fully and effectively as equal members of society. They are disproportionately represented among the world’s poorest, and lack equal access to basic resources, such as education, employment, healthcare and social and legal support systems, as well as have a higher rate of mortality. In spite of this situation, disability has remained largely invisible in the mainstream development agenda and its processes.

Earlier, the international disability movement achieved an extraordinary advance in 2006, with the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention follows decades of work by the United Nations to change attitudes and approaches to disability that would ensure the full equality and participation of persons with disabilities in society. The Convention is intended as a human rights instrument with an explicit, development dimension. However, to realize equality and participation for persons with disabilities, they must be included in all development processes and, now more importantly, in the new emerging post-2015 development framework.

The UN General Assembly in the recent years has repeatedly emphasized that the genuine achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other internationally agreed development goals, requires the inclusion and integration of the rights, and well-being, as well as the perspective of persons with disabilities in development efforts at national, regional and international levels.

Toward this end, in 2011, the General Assembly convened the High Level Meeting on development and disability (HLMDD) at the level of Heads of State and Government, on 23 September 2013, under the theme: “The way forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond”. 

The High Level Meeting was held at a strategic timing of the UN history. It took place five years after the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities entered into force, two years after release of the World Report on Disability and two years away from 2015 -- the target date for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) -- and thereafter, the commencement of the post-2015 agenda and new development priorities.

The HLMDD Outcome that was adopted is an action-oriented document  that provides policy guidance that helps to  translate the international commitment for a disability-inclusive society into concrete actions and to strengthen global efforts to ensure accessibility for and inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society and  development.

It’s It’s time to effectively implement the Outcome Document of the High Level Meeting and to break barriers and open doors: to realize an inclusive society and development for all!

The commemoration of this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities provides an opportunity to further raise awareness of disability and accessibility as a cross cutting development issue and further the global efforts to promote accessibility, remove all types of barriers, and to realize the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in society and shape the future of development for all!

What you can do to observe IDPD2013

Include: Observance of the Day provides opportunities for participation by all stakeholders – Governments, the UN system, civil society and organizations of persons with disabilities – to focus on issues related to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in development, both as beneficiaries and agents.

Organize: Hold forums, public discussions and information campaigns to help find innovative ways and means by which persons with disabilities and their families can be further integrated into their societies and development plans.

Celebrate: Plan and organize performances everywhere to showcase - and celebrate - the contributions made by persons with disabilities as agents of change and development in the communities in which they live.

Take Action: A major focus of the Day is practical and concrete action to include disability in all aspects of development, as well as to further the participation of persons with disabilities in social life and development on the basis of equality. Highlight progress and obstacles in implementing disability-sensitive policies, as well as promote public awareness to break barriers and open doors: for an inclusive society for all.

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