Diversity and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities
International Day of Disabled Persons recognises both visible and invisible disabilities and promotes the inclusion of those with disabilities in the workplace and wider society. Its importance is so significant that an actual event, World Disability Day, takes place annually, hosted by the United Nations (UN).
When and why International Day of Disabled Persons was first adopted and celebrated?
Established by the World Programme of Action concerning persons with disabilities, the day was adopted for the first time by the UN in 1982 and has gone on to be celebrated yearly on December 3rd. The World Health Organisation (WHO) joined in on the commemoration by choosing a theme each year. Twenty-nine years after the first event was held in 1992, participating organisations have helped to make meaningful contributions and change for persons with disabilities the world over.
The day aims to highlight:
- An understanding of the challenges faced by people with disabilities;
- The rights of persons with disabilities
- The integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of the political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities
What are Physical Disabilities?
Physical disabilities are numerous and diverse, in one way or another limiting an individual’s physical capacity or mobility. Physical disabilities may be permanent or temporary, and can be inherited or genetic disorders, serious illnesses, and injury.
Physical disabilities include (among many):
- Brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Cerebral palsy
- Spina bifida
- Cystic fibrosis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Tourette’s syndrome
What are Non Physical Disabilities?
Non physical, or non visible, disabilities refer to conditions that are not obvious at first sight. Although they are not visible, they can be as equally debilitating as physical disabilities and deserve the same amount of recognition.
These include the following:
- Non visible health conditions, such as chronic pain, chronic fatigue, respiratory conditions, incontinence and can include diabetes
- Cognitive impairments, including dementia, traumatic brain injury, or learning disabilities
- Mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, personality disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder.
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Sensory and processing difficulties, such as hearing loss, vision loss, and restricted vision
How can Society be More Inclusive?
People with physical and non physical disabilities have the right to be treated fairly with dignity and respect.
Those with physical disabilities deserve access to all the same places as the physically-abled and so infrastructure should be built (or redesigned) to allow them the same accessibility. This would include transport, buildings, recreational facilities etc.
Society should be more supportive to people with non visible disabilities since everyday things can be challenging for them. The first and most important thing to be aware of is making sure not to judge people based on whether their disability is visible or not. Certain non-visible disabilities, such as mental illnesses, have had unfair and unjustified stigmas attached to them in the past, making individuals reluctant to disclose their conditions. However, no one should feel obliged to disclose what condition they may have.
How to Make a Difference
You can make a positive contribution to being more inclusive of people with disabilities by doing the following:
- Donate to charities that are centred around disability
- Strengthen diversity and inclusion practices to include those with disabilities
- Improve accessibility in the spaces around you, i.e. wheelchair ramps; as well as,
- Assess (or create, if you don’t have one) disability policies of your business, organisation, or school
The lenmed Group is a world-class chain of Private Hospitals that brings quality healthcare to communities across Southern Africa.
Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.