Thursday, December 3, 2009

International Day of Disabled Persons 2009

It's past midnight here in the U.S. and I wanted to write a post that would be up in the morning today, December 3, 2009 because it's an important day. It's a day that's set aside by the UN to bring attention to issues facing those living with disabilities, to celebrate progress and achievements and to mark the work that still needs to be done.

I found this article out of Sri Lanka, which is entitled 'Today is a good day to stand before the mirror'. It speaks about the ways in which all of us have feet of clay, are utterly incapable of understanding, have short memory spans, are hard of hearing and are unable to see things. And it ends with:

Today is International Day of Disabled Persons. An appropriate day I believe to self-indulge in a different way, to reflect on our disabilities, revisit the choices we’ve made, cast our gaze at that which our eyes avoided, listen to things we don’t really like to hear, speak the inconvenient truths that might cost us something, walk in directions we’ve dared not walk, raise our hands to the right thing and not that which is profitable. Appropriate too, to employ our minds to understand who we really are as an ungainly composite of ability and disability.

The theme for this year is "Realigning the Millennium Development Goals for All: Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities and their Communities Around the World,’’ stresses the need to develop programs that raise the profile of disability issues in both the developed and developing world and identify existing needs and priorities, and calls for greater efforts to find solutions which are suited to the technological and economic conditions of the disabled. These actions require people with disabilities to be visible and to be given a voice that will qualify them to be adequately represented in decision making."

From Malaysia, the writer speaks about acquiring his disability and being a father of a son with Down Syndrome and Malaysia's new law the Persons with Disabilities Act 2007, noting that disability is color coded there.

"For the disabled, they have to produce their respective 'Orang Kurang Upaya' OKU identity cards for verification if they wish to obtain assistance from the JKM as well as the other government and private agencies.

This card can be obtained upon registration with the respective district JKM office. The OKU identity card issued by the JKM helps the disabled to deal with the respective authorities.

The respective cards bear six different colour codes where blue denotes the vision disability, purple (hearing), green (physical), red (cerebral palsy), yellow (learning disability) and orange (other disabilities)."

In New Zealand, those who care for people with disabilities are being praised by the Minister of Disability Issues. "My personal connection with disability comes through my brother who was tetraplegic. I remember the experiences so vividly and wished that he could enjoy the pleasures of life, to be able to participate in the way he determined, and to feel that nothing was beyond him.

"I am passionate about the right of families to care for family members in their own homes, with flexible support that allows them to have greater choice and control of their lives. "And this is an area that I will be focussing on as the Minister of Disability Issues."

A female teacher in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, is dedicated to her deaf-mute pupils. Huang Hui has worked there for five years.

In the UK, contributions made by people with disabilities are being celebrated this week.

There is much, much more going on today around the world to mark this important event. Here are some facts from the World Health Organization:

  • At least 10% of the world's population, or 650 million people, live with a disability (1).
  • 20% of the worlds poor are disabled (2).
  • The percentage of children with disabilities not attending school is extremely variable and is between 65 - 85% in some African countries (3).
  • Mortality for children with disabilities may be as high as 80% in countries where under-five mortality as a whole has decreased to below 20% (4).
  • In many low-income and middle -income countries, only 5-15% of disabled people who require assistive devices and technology have access to them (5).

Please join me today in celebrating the achievements of many people with disabilities as well as praying for and working toward the empowerment of those around the world who still lack basic rights and necessities, our brothers and our sisters who, like us, are a "composite of ability and disability".


Greg said...

Great post, thanks Ruth

Wheelie Catholic said...

thanks, Greg :)