On International Day of People With Disability, Ask Yourself: How Are You Creating a More Accessible World?

Today, December 3, marks International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) — a United Nations-observed event that aims to raise awareness, understanding and acceptance for those living with a disability and celebrate their achievements and contributions. And, with more than four million people living with a disability in Australia, it’s an important occasion to celebrate.

According to IDPwD, the Australian Government has supported this event since 1996 and provides funds to promote and raise awareness of the day around Australia. This year’s theme is “Building Back Better: Toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world”.

Earlier this week, the Federal Government was criticised by the disability royal commission for its “serious failure” in not adequately consulting with people with disability at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as failing to create a plan to protect them, The Guardian reported.

According to the commission, no government agency “made any significant effort to consult with people with disability or their representative organisations. Even allowing for the novel challenges presented by the coronavirus, this was a serious failure,” the report said.

“The impact of the pandemic on many people with disability, especially those with high support needs, would have been significantly ameliorated if the Australian government had complied fully with the letter and spirit of its obligations under the [UN convention] from the very outset of the pandemic.”

With this in mind, it’s important we take this theme of “Building Back Better” seriously to make sure we’re doing everything we can to create a more accessible and inclusive world on the other side of this health crisis.

One such way you can lend your support is through petitioning your workplace or local council to make amenities and services more accessible. Consider the number of accessible bathrooms there are in your office or local shopping centre, or look at whether your local railway station offers alternative entrances to stairs. If these areas are lacking, take it upon yourself to lend your voice and initiate change within your local community by contacting your local council or government.

There are also a number of community events happening around the country to celebrate this event, so a quick Google will be able to point you in the direction of your closest one. Otherwise, consider checking out the ABC’s coverage of IDPwD. Over the next few weeks, articles written by people with disability will go live on their website and cover a range of experiences including what it means to live with a fluctuating disability and why we need more people who use wheelchairs working in science.

Australian Paralympian and tennis player, Dylan Alcott, commemorated IDPwD via Instagram, writing: “Happy International day of people with disability day to all my brothers and sisters out there living all across the globe with their respective disabilities.

“There is (sic) now over 1.3 BILLION people around the world that identify as having a disability (4.3 million here in AUS) and every single one of them deserves the right to get out and live the lives that they want to live.

“On IDPWD, I challenge EVERYONE to continue to support and include people with disability in the workplace, on the sporting field, in education and even in your dating lives, and further challenge and lift your expectations of what you think people with disability can actually achieve – because it’s always more than you think!

“And although today is great, it is not a day to throw a barbecue at work and hug Sharon or Steve from accounts because they have Cerebral Palsy then forget about them. It’s about starting conversations and sharing stories and then continuing them all year round – although we will take presents if they are going ;)”

To find out more information, head to the International Day of People with Disability website.

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