"On this World Autism Awareness Day, let us all play a part in changing attitudes toward persons with autism and in recognizing their rights as citizens, who, like everyone else, are entitled to claim those rights and make decisions for their lives in accordance with their own will and preferences."

Secretary-General António Guterres

"Toward Autonomy and Self-Determination"

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) recognizes the right of persons with disabilities to independence of person and to individual autonomy (article 3). Moreover, the CRPD highlights the right of persons with disabilities to "legal capacity on an equal basis with others and in all aspects of life" (article 12).

Legal capacity is instrumental to the recognition of a person as a human being of full personhood, with the right to take decisions and enter into contracts. However, certain abilities have often been seen as necessary qualifications for full personal autonomy, creating a barrier to full societal inclusion for people with autism.

The WAAD observance, on 31 March 2017, discussed policies and approaches being implemented with regard to guardianship and the path to self-determination and legal capacity of persons with autism.

The 2017 WAAD observance was organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information and Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Call to Action: Employment for Persons with Autism

This Call to Action is an appeal to employers to commit to offering employment opportunities for individuals on the autism spectrum. The Call urges all stakeholders to work together with employers to facilitate their access to this largely untapped talent pool.


  • It is recommended that employers make concrete quantifiable pledges to increase the proportion of their workforce that is comprised of individuals on the autism spectrum.
  • Other pledges that serve to advance the purpose of the global Call to Action are also welcome.


  • To demonstrate leadership in addressing the unacceptably high unemployment rate of adults on the autism spectrum, estimated to be more than 80%.
  • To improve the quality of their products and services by tapping the specialized talents of employees on the spectrum, such as superior pattern recognition and attention to detail.
  • To achieve a better understanding of their customer base by having a workforce that better reflects the general population.
  • To offer an attractive work environment to employees – a workplace where people with autism thrive is generally a great place for all employees to work.


  • Commitments include an agreement to report on an annual basis on progress made to realise the commitment, throughout its duration.
  • Commitments will be recognized in a ceremony at the United Nations on World Autism Awareness Day 2016.

For further information, please contact Jon Herbertsson, United Nations Department of Public Information, at (212) 963-7346 or via email at herbertsson@un.org.

Download the Call to Action in PDF format pdf