International Day of Persons with Disabilities
According to Columbia News, Views and Reviews, approximately 15 percent of the world’s population is currently living with a disability (Columbia News, Views and Reviews, 2017). Even though persons with disabilities (P..WDs) experience physical, social, economic and attitudinal barriers to participate in activities of daily living, work and play all over the world, the level of services and support that they receive differs across communities. Several international organizations like the United Nations and the World Health Organization are working towards greater inclusion and integration of P.W.Ds into the society. The leadership of these organizations understands that when a community offers support and inclusion services for persons with disabilities, the entire society benefits. With this understanding, global organizations are constantly making efforts to create awareness about and advocate for policies that promote increased participation of people with disabilities in all facets of life.
The annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (I.D.P.W.D.) initiated by the United Nations in 1992 is an example of such efforts. I.D.P.W.D. was established by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. This day of advocacy is celebrated every year globally on December 3 and seeks to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all areas of social, emotional, academic and career development as well as raise awareness about disability issues (United Nations, 2017). Each year the United Nations announces a theme which provides an overall focus for how society can strive for inclusion. This year’s theme was Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for All and the main principle of this theme was to leave no one behind and empower P.W.Ds to be active contributors of society by providing them equal access and opportunities (Department of Social Services, 2017). The United Nations website includes four goals that communities must try to achieve as they work towards creating a sustainable and resilient society:
- Include: All stakeholders– Governments, the UN System, civil society and organizations of persons with disabilities – must collaboratively draft policies that focus on inclusion of P.W.Ds as both beneficiaries and agents of change.
- Organize: Communities must hold public forums and informational campaigns to discuss and share ways of empowering persons of all abilities to develop and be fully included in their local communities.
- Celebrate: Communities should plan events everywhere to celebrate the contributions made by persons with disabilities as agents of change in the communities in which they live.
- Take Action: Communities must take practical action by highlighting best practices and thinking about making recommendations to local political leaders, businesses, academic institutions, cultural centers and others that would encourage the integration of P.W.Ds in society.
Disability Services promotes the 2017 theme of the I.D.P.W.D. through advocacy and support services provided to Georgia State students. The Disability Service staff believe in an inclusive educational experience for everyone and ensures Georgia State students with a disability have equal opportunity to achieve their academic and career goals. Disability Services organizes several events throughout the year in an effort to create greater awareness about disability-related issues in the community creates collaborative relationships with students, faculty and staff to support the growth and development of students with disabilities. The department’s philosophy is to create a culture of care through access, integrity and inclusion and all the services provided and activities organized are aimed at furthering this goal. Disability Services creates a culture of care through access, integrity and inclusion.