International Day of Persons with Disabilities has been celebrated annually on 3rd of December around the world to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. The day works to promote action to raise awareness about disability issues and draw attention to the benefits of an inclusive and accessible society for all.
This year the theme for IDPD is “ Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable Covid19 world”. The theme highlights the challenges faced by persons with disabilities during Covid19 pandemic and to ensure inclusive, accessible and sustainable future for all once the Virus is controlled.
The World Health Organization recognizes ‘disability’ as an umbrella term of impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions, denoting the negative aspects of the interaction between an individual and that individual’s contextual factors. Persons with disabilities living worldwide face many barriers to inclusion in areas of transportation, education, employment, social and political participation. Persons with disabilities must be able to fulfill their role in society and participate on a equal basis with others. The ability of an individual should be focused, not on his or her disability. The societal image of persons with disabilities is impacted by attitudes based on stigma and discrimination, as well as archaic ideas about disability and persons with disabilities that are often the greatest barrier to their full equal participation in society and development on an equal basis with others. Everyone should realize that disability is a human condition, almost everyone is likely to experience some form of disability, temporary or permanent at some point in life.
Census of 2012 estimated that 8.7% of Sri Lankan population above the age of five live with some form of disability such as physical, visual, hearing or intellectual. “Leave no one behind” according to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is an ambitious plan of action towards equality among all. The 2030 agenda for Sustainable development clearly states that disability cannot be a reason or criteria for lack of access to development programming.
Covid19 affected the global population its effects are distinct and intensified for Persons with Disabilities. Lack of access to Public Health Information due to physical, mental or sensory impairments poses a higher risk of Persons with Disabilities contracting the virus by being unaware of symptoms and precautionary measures that need to be taken. Persons with disabilities are at a higher risk of being impacted by both the pandemic and the measures taken to control the pandemic. Lack of adequate knowledge about Covid19 attributed to the absence of accessible formats of information, need of personal assistance, inadequate knowledge of preventive strategies etc. Empowerment involves investing in people, career, education and social protection. When people are empowered they are efficient to take advantage opportunities, change and embrace their civic responsibilities.
Article by: Rimaza Hassan