How I celebrated International Day of Persons with Disabilities

IDPwD 2014
IDPwD 2014 at United Nations

Every year on December 3rd, I like to take the opportunity to create awareness for persons with disabilities and just drop little thought-provoking notations to get people to think differently. It is after all International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

For this years event, I spent not just one, but two days to celebrate persons with disabilities at the United Nations in New York. It is usually me with the microphone and doing the talking. But this year I took the opportunity to sit back and really listen and take in all of the great things that people are doing all over the world to enhance the lives of people with disabilities.

This year’s theme is Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology. All of us are living in a world where we are reliant on technology to function. For people without disability, technology makes life easier. However, for people with disability, technology makes things possible. Technology opens doors and creates new and different ways of enabling communications, whether that be for hearing, vision or mobility impairments. Mr Abe Murray from Google pointed out to us all – “We are no longer living in a world of Science Fiction, we are living in Science Reality”.

For the 15% of the Global population of persons with disabilities, the discussions at the United Nations were to ‘examine good practices and lessons learned in the planning and implementation of policies and strategies to promote accessible technologies for sustainable development in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all.’

One of the greatest eye openers for me at the end of day one, was a ‘Q & A’ session where it absolutely, seriously, blew me away how different persons across the world are doing great things – but not many knew what others were doing. I suppose it is great to have forums run by the United Nations to share this information, but it made me think? We all have the same goals listed above, so is there a better way to share this information? How do we really and truly share what the different barriers for people with hearing impairments experience in Belgium, and leverage the best practice on what Poland are doing?

Our goal is to ensure that these technologies for persons with disabilities are not just for people who can afford it. As Stephen Hawking said on the day: “We need to make technology available for those who need it, so no-one lives in silence”.

We all have a voice, and for persons with disabilities our voice is the only way we can enable what happens in our own lives moving forward. We need to change attitudes of others, lesson the barriers for participation, and forge ahead with enabling technology to ensure we can shout to the world and share out ideas!

Nothing about us without us!

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