Numerous efforts, both substantive and promotional, are taken nationally and
internationally to improve the situation of the disabled with the goal of integrating them
into society and helping them with their physical and psychological adjustment. Programmes
are launched focusing on rehabilitation and disability prevention. National committees
representing 141 countries and territories are established to improve the social and
economic condition of the disabled, to work on the development and implementation of
programmes, and research, policy, decision-making, legislation, decentralization from the
national to local levels, and assistance to developing countries.
1981 - Experts in the field of disability meet at several symposiums and conferences:
the International Symposium on Disabled Persons meets 27 September - 4 October in Tripoli,
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya; the World Symposium of Experts on Technical Cooperation Among
Developing Countries and Technical Assistance in Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation
of Disabled Persons meets in Vienna, Austria, 12 - 23 October; the World Conference on
Actions and Strategies on Education, Disability Prevention, and Integration of Disabled
Persons is held in Toremolinos, Spain, in cooperation with UNESCO.
Efforts are made to improve accessibility for disabled persons to the United Nations
Headquarters in New York and to United Nations Offices in Geneva and Vienna. The United
Nations Public Information units prepare photo display material, film, television and
radio productions on the subject. UNICEF expands immunization to over 5 million children
to decrease the potential for disability-causing disease.
In May, the Commission on Human Settlements endorses a policy encouraging the United
Nations and Member States to eliminate barriers in human settlement areas that would
hinder or impede "full participation".
From 30 November to 6 December - International non-governmental organizations
participate in the International Year by attending the First Founding Congress of Disabled
Peoples International, in Singapore.
1982 - The General Assembly adopts the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled
Persons. Disability policy is now structured in three main areas: prevention;
rehabilitation; and equalization of opportunities.
On 3 December the General Assembly makes recommendations on the implementation of the
World Programme, incorporating the recommendations of the Advisory Committee for the
International Year. In the same resolution it also proclaims 1983-1992 the United Nations
Decade of Disabled Persons.
1983-1992 Having culminated its activities in the disability field with the
proclamation of the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons, 1983-1992, the General
Assembly encourages Member States to use the Decade to implement the World Programme of
1983 - The Secretary-General announces publication of a report on activities concerning
disability prevention. It indicates that many disabilities can be prevented by identifying
measures to combat malnutrition, environmental pollution, poor hygiene, inadequate
prenatal and post-natal care, water-borne diseases and accidents. UNDP, UNICEF and WHO
establish an international programme with the goal of applying proven techniques to
prevent and treat disabilities within general health programmes in New Delhi.
1984 - The Secretary-General reports that an average of 20 - 25 per cent of the
population of developing countries is affected by disability and approximately 350 - 500
million disabled persons live in areas with insufficient services. A growing tendency to
replace institutional care with programmes that help families and communities is cited in
29 August 1984 Mr. Leandro Despouy from Argentina is appointed Special
Rapporteur by the Sub-Commission on Human Rights. He is to study the causal connection
between human rights violations, violations of fundamental freedoms, and disability.
1985 - An international initiative is established to promote disability prevention and
effective rehabilitation at the national and regional levels. The United Nations Trust
Fund for the International Year of Disabled Persons is renamed the Voluntary Fund for the
United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons.
1987 - The Secretary-General issues a report stating that much progress has been made
in increasing awareness on the significance of disability and its human consequences, but
that much more needs to be done.
In August the Secretary-General convenes a global meeting of experts to review
implementation of the World Programme of Action. Recommendations include holding an
international convention on the elimination of discrimination against the disabled,
launching a public information campaign and providing United Nations materials in forms
suitable to the disabled.
1988 - The General Assembly calls upon Member States to place special emphasis on the
equalization of opportunities for disabled persons. 1989 - The Secretary-General is
requested by the General Assembly to bring to the attention of Member States the Tallinn
Guidelines for Action on Human Resources Development in the Field of Disability. The
Guidelines recognize disabled persons as agents of their own destiny rather than as
dependent objects of governments and seek to realizes the full potential and capabilities
of each individual. Employment is seen as a means for disabled persons effectively to
exercise their full rights as citizens. The Guidelines state that disabled persons should
be trained and employed in the work force on an equal basis with other members of society.