International Day of People with Disabilities 2023
International Day of People with Disabilities1 is honored annually on December 3rd to raise awareness and understanding about those who live with either visible and/or invisible mental and/or physical disabilities.
The mission of this day is to help people all over the world have equal opportunities for health, success, employment, and recreation and to increase the support, rights, dignity, and well-being of people with disabilities2.
An annual event, International Day of People with Disabilities is hosted by the United Nations and encourages business leaders across the globe to value the unique contributions of disabled people.
Ways to Show Compassion
If you are not a disabled adult or don’t live with someone who is, it can be difficult to know what it’s like to live with a disability. International Day of People with Disabilities is an opportunity to educate yourself and access resources and information. Non-disabled people can be unaware of all the things they do without difficulty and becoming aware of respectful ways to be helpful is a good start.
Focus on Similarities, Not Differences
Finding common ground is the basis for all human connection. Just because someone is in a wheelchair or needs assistance walking doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot in common! Take time to get to know someone with a disability and focus on your similarities, not your differences. Having a disability is far from the most interesting thing about a person.
Know the right language to use
The words we use are important and disability discrimination is still a real issue. Referring to someone as their disability is short-sighted, so see past their disability and get to know them as a whole person. If you are unsure of the right terminology to use, get educated to avoid inadvertently offending someone. Don’t assume a disabled person sees their disability as a tragedy or loss, either.
Most people with disabilities have come through adversity and are proud of their abilities and all they have overcome, so be cautious about making incorrect assumptions, like saying ‘I’m so sorry this happened to you’ unless the conversation and/or situation warrants it.
Phrases such as ‘handicapped’ and ‘wheelchair-bound’ are outdated and no longer used (despite the prevalence of the word ‘handicapped’ on signs). For more information about communication protocol and etiquette when interacting with people with disabilities, this article from the United Spinal Association is a helpful resource.
Don’t Underestimate a Person’s Abilities
Many people with disabilities are capable of caring for themselves without assistance. Be aware of someone’s needs, and always ask someone if they appear to need assistance before interfering.
Ask someone if you can be of assistance and let them advise you if they do, and the best way to help. Saying something like, “Is there anything I can help you with?” or “Would you like me to get the door?” before assuming they need help is best.
Ways to Support Disabled Adults
While December 3rd is a day to recognize people with disabilities, there are ways to support this community all year round. Here are some ideas:
Jobs for Disabled People
Talk to your employer, and employers in your community, about their practices for recruiting and hiring disabled adults. Inform them that people with disabilities can be a valuable contribution to the workplace. Make a point of supporting businesses that employ people with disabilities and let them know you noticed!
Contact Your Legislator
Many people with disabilities need publicly funded services, and policymakers need to know about concerns and areas for improvement people with disabilities have with the quality of these services. Get informed about needs in your area and let them know!
Help someone in Your Community
Ask your local outpatient/inpatient clinic, VHA, senior center, or residence if they know of someone who needs assistance and offer to help. There are always needs - from picking up or delivering medication, getting groceries, or driving someone. These simple tasks help you make new connections and friends, too!
Keep an eye out around your community to see opportunities to make places more accessible for the disabled, and let your elected officials know of areas that need work. Encourage others in your community to do the same!
Disability Employment Services
Whether you are an employer seeking resources to hire disabled adults or a job-seeker yourself, there are many resources available online that can connect employers and disabled potential employees across the country, including:
Join the ENEMEEZ® Thrive Community!
The Thrive Community Facebook Group is a private space for any person with a disability, as well as caregivers and healthcare providers who touch their lives. Our purpose is to provide a safe, educational space for group members to ask every question, connect with their peers, and empower each other through communication and connection.
Our conversations are led by incredible individuals who themselves are living and thriving. For more enlightening resources, information, and discussion join the ENEMEEZ® Thrive Community today!
- INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES - December 3, 2023 - National Today
- International Day of Persons with Disabilities – 3 December | United Nations Enable