December 3 is observed as International Day of Persons with Disabilities since 1992 when the United Nations proclaimed it as such. The day is ear marked to promote understanding of disability issues. It also marks out ways to mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. The intent is to create awareness of the need to integrate persons with disabilities in every sphere of life – political, social, economic and cultural.
The 2014 theme for International Day of Persons with Disabilities is “Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology”. This year the Day of Disabilities focuses on the role of technology in three distinct areas:
– Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Responses
– Creating Enabling Working Environments
– Disability-Inclusive Sustainable Development Goals
The day sees the governments, NGOs and organizations working directly with disability issues hosting commemorative events. The attempt is to share the message and progress on raising awareness of disability issues and further promote the full and effective participation of persons with disabilities in society.
Human history showcases technology to be an inherent impact making feat in our lives. Right from the Industrial Revolution to present day technology has served in every facet of daily living. The emergence of information and communications technologies has dramatically increased connectivity between people and their access to information. IT has actually changed the way people live, work and play.
However, not all people benefit from the advances of technology due to their inaccessibility to new technologies. Nearly over 1 billion people live in the world with some form of disability. They continue to face not only physical barriers but also social, economic and attitudinal barriers. They are in fact the world’s largest minority group. However persons with disabilities remain largely invisible in mainstream development frameworks.
But after the annual observance of International Day of Disabled Persons and a special focus on their inclusion in all walks of life the scene is changing. And lots more needs to be done yet. This year’s theme provides opportunities to further raise awareness on a cross-cutting platforms with regard to development issues. The commemoration theme for Sustainable Development with the promise of technology is timely and coincides with the concluding period of Millennium Development Goals that had been envisaged. The beginning of 2015 will see the launch of the new development framework for sustainable development goals.
Countries will work to harness the power of technology to promote inclusion and accessibility to help realize the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in society and shape their future. Three sub-themes further focus on chosen areas – environmental, economic and social. More specifically the focus will be on education, growth and employment, inequality, and accessibility of human settlements.
Technology greatly impacts achievements and outcomes of goals for persons with disabilities. This Day is used to promote the impact and benefits of assistive technology, accessible information and communications technology for the benefit of persons with disabilities. Due focus is given on policy and program measures to improve the well-being and inclusion of disabled people in society for their optimum development.