UNESCO celebrates International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) has been commemorated since 1992 to promote awareness and mobilize support for critical issues relating to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society and development. The Day works to promote action to raise awareness about disability issues and draw attention to the benefits of an inclusive and accessible society for all.

Of the global population of persons with disabilities, 80% of them live in developing countries. One third of all out-of-school children have disabilities, and fewer than 2% of children with disabilities in developing countries are in school. However, today, the horizons for persons with disabilities are expanding further thanks to major technological advances that we are lucky to be witnessing.

The power of such technological and scientific progress for inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities have been acknowledged in the UNESCO Outcome DocumentThe New Delhi Declaration on Inclusive ICTs for Persons with Disabilities: Making Empowerment a Reality in 2015 by UNESCO’s Executive Board followed by the adoption of the declaration by the 38th session of the General Conference.

As a UN agency, UNESCO contributes to the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD, 2006) within the fields of its competence via the organization’s overarching goal to raise awareness among the international community and governments both on the significance and complexity of disability, as well as the benefits of technological and scientific progress for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society.

On the occasion of the celebration of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities (3 December) UNESCO’s annual celebration programme for 2015, under the theme “Inclusion matters: Access and Empowerment for People of all Abilities”, will include a series of key note speeches by Ms Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s Director General; Mr Lenin Moreno, United Nations Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility; and Ms Ségolène Neuville, French Junior Minister for Disabled People and the Fight Against Exclusion. This will be followed by two high-level discussion panels which will have expert international representation.

The discussion panels will be dedicated to a number of issues relevant to the matter of building inclusive, accessible and empowering Knowledge Societies which prioritize the needs of disabled people. This theme will be approached in regards to questions that address the role of multi- stakeholders - governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international aid organizations - in delivering this common vision.

The one-day celebration event to be held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris is expected to bring together over 500 participants to learn from experts and discuss future implementation strategies as well as current progress being made across the globe to build inclusive and empowering environments for disabled people with regards to their access to education, information, employment, healthcare and other spheres of life.

The Day’s events will conclude with a screening of a series of thematic films followed by a jazz concert.

This event follows the first conference “From Exclusion to Empowerment: Role of Information and Communication Technologies for Persons with Disabilities”, organized by UNESCO and hosted by the Government of India from 24 to 26 November 2014 in New Delhi. The New Delhi conference highlighted the first international show of commitment from approximately 80 countries for harnessing the unprecedented opportunities that ICTs offer for empowering persons with disabilities, by sharing best practices, solutions and knowledge.

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