International Day of Persons with Disabilities
By: Lauren Buckley, Masters Level Intern
International Day of Persons with Disabilities was first observed as “International Day of Disabled Persons” in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed on December 3 to promote an understanding of disability issues and to mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities (UnitedNations.org, n.d.). The spirit of the day is to ensure that all people in the world have equal opportunities for work, play, health, and success (Tripp, 2022). Further, it helps promote “reinforcing the importance of securing the rights of people with disabilities, so they can participate fully, equally and effectively in society with others, and face no barriers in all aspects of their lives” (who.int, n.d.).
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was influential toward helping individuals with disabilities and advocating for their rights. This act was created to “define the rights of people with disabilities and the design standards whos businesses and municipalities must incorporate to comply with the law” (Tripp, 2022). This act protects people with disabilities from discrimination in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public (adata.org, n.d.). Further, the “ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications” (adata.org, n.d.). The ADA is divided into five titles which are relevant to different areas of public life that protect individuals with disabilities. These include the following: Title I (Employment: Equal Employment Opportunity for Individuals with Disabilities), Title II (State and Local Government: Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services) Title III (Public Accomodations: Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations and in Commercial Facilities), Title IV (Telecommunication), and Title V (Miscellaneous Provisions).
There are several ways that one can choose to observe International Day of Persons with Disabilities. One way is to become an advocate. One can look around their community and evaluate the area and resources to ensure that persons with disabilities have the tools and accommodations they need. Another way is to positively serve the community. Specifically, one can reach out to those that need assistance with delivering medication, dropping off mail, and picking up food from the grocery store in order to make a difference (Tripp, 2022). Another way can include demonstrating compassion (Tripp, 2022). Being mindful of those that need extra time or tools is important as well as engaging in continuous learning and research to increase one’s knowledge and awareness.
As counselors and mental health professionals, it is imperative that we advocate for individuals with disabilities and their rights. Understanding the impact of stigma, discrimination, and lack of accessibility is important while working with this population so that we can optimally support and provide them with appropriate accommodations and resources. It is our role as mental health professionals to help clients with disabilities explore and process their concerns in healthy ways, encourage advocation for themselves, and utilize effective coping strategies so that they can progress toward their goals and fulfill their potential.
Adata.org, adata.org/. (2022, December 1). What is the Americans with disabilities act (ADA)? ADA National Network. Retrieved November 29, 2022, from https://adata.org/learn-about-ada
Tripp, K. (2022, February 11). International Day of Persons with Disabilities – December 3. National Today. Retrieved November 29, 2022, from https://nationaltoday.com/international-day-of-persons-with-disabilities/
UnitedNations.org, (n.d.). International Day of Persons with Disabilities – 3 December enable. United Nations. Retrieved November 28, 2022, from https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/international-day-of-persons-with-disabilities-3-december.html
WHO.int, (n.d.). International Day of Persons with Disabilities. World Health Organization. Retrieved November 28, 2022, from https://www.who.int/campaigns/international-day-of-persons-with-disabilities