The World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons:
The International Year of Disabled Persons, 1981, was celebrated with numerous
programmes, research projects, policy innovations and recommendations. Many conferences
and symposiums were held during the Year, including the First Founding Congress of
Disabled People International, held in Singapore from 30 November to 6 December. The Trust
Fund for the International Year, established in 1977, collected over $510,000 in
contributions from member States.
In 1982, the General Assembly took a major step towards ensuring effective follow-up to
the International Year by adopting, on 3 December 1982, the World Programme of Action
concerning Disabled Persons. The Programme restructured disability policy into three
distinct areas: prevention; rehabilitation; and equalization of opportunities.
"We still need things like housing we can live in. Then the neighbours will see
how independent we are and how we are looking after our house, our wife, our
children...how we are performing our duties as independent citizens
Memon, Asian Blind Union, Pakistan
Implementation of the Programme of Action, using multisectoral and multidisciplinary
approaches, was addressed by the General Assembly on 3 December 1982 and 22 November 1983.
In a broad sense, implementation would entail long-term strategies integrated into
national policies for socio-economic development, preventive activities that would include
development and use of technology for the prevention of disablement, and legislation
eliminating discrimination regarding access to facilities, social security, education and
employment. At the international level, Governments were requested to cooperate with each
other, the United Nations and non-governmental organizations.
Together, the Programme and the International Year had launched a new era--one that
would seek to define "handicapped" as the relationship between persons with
disabilities and their environment. It was imperative that the barriers created by society
to full participation by persons with disabilities be removed.