International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December 2013

 Theme: “Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all”

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Over one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability!

Around the world, persons with disabilities face physical, social, economic and attitudinal barriers that exclude them from participating fully and effectively as equal members of society. They are disproportionately represented among the world’s poorest, and lack equal access to basic resources, such as education, employment, healthcare and social and legal support systems, as well as have a higher rate of mortality. In spite of this situation, disability has remained largely invisible in the mainstream development agenda and its processes.

Earlier, the international disability movement achieved an extraordinary advance in 2006, with the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention follows decades of work by the United Nations to change attitudes and approaches to disability that would ensure the full equality and participation of persons with disabilities in society. The Convention is intended as a human rights instrument with an explicit, development dimension. However, to realize equality and participation for persons with disabilities, they must be included in all development processes and, now more importantly, in the new emerging post-2015 development framework.

The UN General Assembly in the recent years has repeatedly emphasized that the genuine achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other internationally agreed development goals, requires the inclusion and integration of the rights, and well-being, as well as the perspective of persons with disabilities in development efforts at national, regional and international levels.

Toward this end, in 2011, the General Assembly convened the High Level Meeting on development and disability (HLMDD) at the level of Heads of State and Government, on 23 September 2013, under the theme: “The way forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond”.

The High Level Meeting was held at a strategic timing of the UN history. It took place five years after the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities entered into force, two years after release of the World Report on Disability and two years away from 2015 — the target date for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — and thereafter, the commencement of the post-2015 agenda and new development priorities.

The HLMDD Outcome that was adopted is an action-oriented document  that provides policy guidance that helps to  translate the international commitment for a disability-inclusive society into concrete actions and to strengthen global efforts to ensure accessibility for and inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society and  development.

It’s It’s time to effectively implement the Outcome Document of the High Level Meeting and to break barriers and open doors: to realize an inclusive society and development for all!

The commemoration of this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities provides an opportunity to further raise awareness of disability and accessibility as a cross cutting development issue and further the global efforts to promote accessibility, remove all types of barriers, and to realize the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in society and shape the future of development for all!

What you can do to observe IDPD2013

Include: Observance of the Day provides opportunities for participation by all stakeholders – Governments, the UN system, civil society and organizations of persons with disabilities – to focus on issues related to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in development, both as beneficiaries and agents.

Organize: Hold forums, public discussions and information campaigns to help find innovative ways and means by which persons with disabilities and their families can be further integrated into their societies and development plans.

Celebrate: Plan and organize performances everywhere to showcase – and celebrate – the contributions made by persons with disabilities as agents of change and development in the communities in which they live.

Take Action: A major focus of the Day is practical and concrete action to include disability in all aspects of development, as well as to further the participation of persons with disabilities in social life and development on the basis of equality. Highlight progress and obstacles in implementing disability-sensitive policies, as well as promote public awareness to break barriers and open doors: for an inclusive society for all.

Events around the world to commemorate IDPD 2013

UN system

The panel discussion on Inclusive Education entitled ‘Building the bridge between research, policy and practice’ is organized jointly by UNESCO and “Aide et Action Internationale” on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, established in 1981 on the International Year for Disabled Persons. – See more at:

UNHR (Honduras)
The IDPD2013 will be the occasion to publicly present the National Policy on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which has been approved earlier this year( UNHCR will also count on the participation of Dr. Luis Fernando Astorga, who will deliver a speech on the importance of the Convention to the inclusive development of PWD as well as a guest form CONADIS Peru, who sill share with the public a pilot project implemented in Peru. This in order to engage possible international donors in Honduras. A twin event will be held in San Pedro Sula on December 5th. (Programme)

National and local commemorations

1. This year, the City of Vancouver is expanding its activities and hosting two events. On November 26, one week before the International Day, there will be an ability-focused employment workshop for persons with disabilities who are seeking employment. Then on December 3, there will be a big celebration at the Roundhouse Community Centre, including an art show, a mixed-abilities dance workshop, and an evening of fun, lively performances. Guests can look forward to live music, comedy, door prizes, snacks, and much more. Both events are free to attend and open to everyone.
For details, keep checking

2. Natural Resources Canada’s Persons with DisAbilities Network (PWDAN) is once again excited to celebrate the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This year PWDAN is hosting information booths from a wide range of organizations that focus on improving the lives of persons with physical and mental disabilities. PWDAN is partnering with a departmental initiative called Changing our Organization through Respect, to promote equality and inclusivity by hosting several guest speakers on the topic of “invisible” disabilities such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and anxiety. (

3. The Accessibility Advisory Committees of Perth and Huron Counties (Ontario), as well as the Alzheimer’s Society of Perth County are working with the Avon Maitland District School Board (AMDSB) to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities. All schools across the AMDSB will be invited to involve their students in a number of activities in order to recognize and learn more about the diversity that exists among the students. In addition, three schools – Hullett Central Public School (Londesboro), Upper Thames Elementary School (Mitchell) and Listowel District Secondary School – are going to be involved in a number of planned activities including educational videos, disability simulation, and discussions about misconceptions, stereotypes and isolation with regard to persons with disabilities. There will be a focus on the specific disabilities of students in their schools. Some students will live with a disability for a full day and at the end of the day will report on the barriers that they faced and the accommodations available at their school.
For more information about the activities planned for December 3rd, please email:

1. Newstalk, Ireland’s national commercial news radio station, will celebrate the contribution disabled people make to irish society. On Monday 25th November, online columnist Stephen Daunt will reveal the 5 things that make his day run like clockwork.Throughout the week, they will have guest contributors online doing the same thing and listeners will also be involved. Until 3rd of December, Newstalk encourages all listeners with disabilites to use the hashtag #idpd to post pictures on how their day is going and the things that are important to them.

2. To mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Equality Commission for NI, in partnership with Employers for Disability NI and NI Association for Mental Health, is hosting a seminar for employers entitled ‘Managing Mental Health and Reasonable Adjustments in the Workplace’. The event will be held in Riddel Hall, Stranmillis Road, Belfast N Ireland from 10 am to 1 pm on Tuesday 3 December 2013. The event will provide employers with guidance on the importance of early conversations with people with mental ill health and the support that employers should consider to meet their duties to make reasonable adjustments to their staff, contributing to the importance of removing barriers to create an inclusive accessible workplace. (

The Special Children’s Educational Institute (SCEI) will organise an event on December 3, the International Day for Persons with Intellectual Challenges, aimed at increasing awareness and acceptance amongst the masses. The event will comprise of an exhibition of student’s art work and items made for Sunflowers, the line of products made by the vocational centre. The produced items include handloom table mats, gift bags, scented candles and hand-printed envelopes.

Within the project of “Social Inclusion of Children with Developmental Disabilities”, a public campaign has been launched under the slogan “We Are Better Together” and with the message “Various Wishes, Same Needs”. The purpose of the project is to improve public knowledge and understanding of the principles of social inclusion and rights of children with developmental disabilities. (Watch documentary)

Fundacion Adecco is conducting an awareness-raising campaign  (Watch video)

United Kingdom

1. On 3 December 2013, Edge Hill University has organized events to share the experience of disabled students. The programme includes:
– Wheelchair tours of the campus to offer non physically disabled students the experience of using a wheelchair around the campus with the use of hand bicycles, provided by “Wheels for All”
– T-shirt campaign that highlights Edge Hill University’s commitment to creating an inclusive environment as well as the IDPD
– Student stories shared through videos
Please see footage from last’s year’s event (

2. ‘Breaking barriers, open doors’ is the theme for International Day for People with Disabilities which is being celebrated by Brent Housing Partnership at the Brent Civic Centre on Tuesday 3rd December from 11am to 4pm. Brent residents with disabilities and their carers often face physical, social, economic and attitudinal barriers that stop them from taking part fully and effectively as equal members of society. The free event looks at how these barriers are being tackled in Brent and discussions will take place about what the next steps should be.

3. Movement for Hope is organising a week long gallery exhibition of paintings made by persons with disabilities.  They are also holding an online forum that will be followed by a public forum at the UCL Institute of Neurology, one of the top 4 leading universities and institutes in the world.

4. Bond Disability and Development Group, a collective of UK based NGOs, is organising a reception at the Houses of Parliament. (Programme) (Invitation)

5. Haringey Disability First Consortium is celebrating the United Nations International Day for disabled people. The focus of the day is opening doors and breaking barriers. Jackson’s Lane Theatre will lead circus skills workshops on this theme. Tuesday 3rd December 2013 Bruce Castle Museum Lunch from 12 (noon)

6.  The UK Coaching Awards will introduce an entirely new category of award – the Disability Coach of the Year. Nominations for the award have come from across the United Kingdom and across a wide variety of sports, with the three finalists representing Boccia, Wheelchair Basketball and Wheelchair Tennis. Details of the winner will be released on soon after the presentation at 21:45 GMT on 3 December 2013. (

United States

On Tuesday, December 3rd, the Disability Law Society is encouraging faculty and students at the Syracuse University College of Law to leave all interior doors open for the entire day.  As a way to “Break Barriers, Open Doors: For an Inclusive Society for All,” the students at the College of Law are literally opening doors for access for all at the law school.  On each door a sign will be posted explaining why the doors should be left open and explaining the importance of spreading awareness about disability rights. (


Themes for previous years:


Disability-related themes and observances of other International Days