International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), 3 December 2021

International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), 3 December 2021. Photo Courtesy
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International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), 3 December 2021

International Day of Persons With Disabilities highlights and promotes the rights and well-being of people with disabilities. The theme for IDPD this year is “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.”

Today, the world population is over 7 billion people, and more than one billion people, or approximately 15 percent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability; 80 percent live in developing countries.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), 3 December 2021. Photo Courtesy

The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992 by United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. It aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic, and cultural life.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is amplifying the observance with a week-long program from November 25 through December 3. The program’s theme and focus include building a “sustainable post-COVID-19 world by and for persons with disabilities.”

To raise the campaign’s visibility, UNESCO is using its social media platforms to highlight the stories of people living with disabilities through the coronavirus pandemic.

How to be good teammates for people with disabilities.

Language is an important starting point for being a great person to work with when it comes to accessibility and inclusiveness. Everyone knows that words have the power to hurt or to heal, to lift up or to put down.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), 3 December 2021. Photo Courtesy

Beyond using inclusive, affirming language, here are some suggestions to improve workplace accessibility:

  • Make friends first – Many people with disabilities don’t consider their disability or disabilities a defining characteristic of their life. If they don’t, take appropriate opportunities to ask about their family or their interests in music, TV, sports, food, and hobbies. If they do, be prepared to ask about and receive their stories about their life without questioning their choices or offering unsolicited advice or sympathy.
  • Train everyone – Employers should educate managers and teammates about the rights of people with disabilities in the workplace. This includes possibly invisible disabilities, and everyone’s role and opportunity to improve workplace accessibility.
  • Eliminate physical barriers – Although work from home is part of the new normal, some organizations are urging or mandating that people come back to the office in some capacity. As people return, take time to make sure people with disabilities can easily navigate in every space, from the parking lot to the restroom to the boardroom.
  • Maintain flexibility – As one source points out, in some instances, “no matter how accessible your workplace is, it won’t be enough for people with severe mobility impairments.” If you’re in that situation, consider inviting the employee or employees in question to help design accommodations that work for the whole team, such as exploring whether they could work in a totally remote role.
  • Enhance physical accessibility – Offer closed-captioned video calls, email summaries of key points from meetings, and make sure employees can access visual information (using large enough type in colors and background combinations with adequate contrast, for example).
Felicity Gitonga
Felicity Gitonga is the founder of Africa Business News. abn, freelance writer, journalist, and author with a passion for telling stories.

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