In 1976, the General Assembly proclaimed 1981 as the International Year of Disabled Persons (IYDP)*. It called for a plan of action at the national, regional and international levels, with an emphasis on equalization of opportunities, rehabilitation and prevention of disabilities.
The theme of IYDP was “full participation and equality”, defined as the right of persons with disabilities to take part fully in the life and development of their societies, enjoy living conditions equal to those of other citizens, and have an equal share in improved conditions resulting from socio-economic development.
Other objectives of the Year included: increasing public awareness; understanding and acceptance of persons with disabilities; and encouraging persons with disabilities to form organizations through which they can express their views and promote action to improve their situation.
A major lesson of the Year was that the image of persons with disabilities depends to an important extent on social attitudes; these were a major barrier to the realization of the goal of full participation and equality in society by persons with disabilities.