December 3rd is International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). Recognized annually, the day is to bring awareness and promote the rights and well-being of people with disabilities around the world, in all domains of life. As much as our society is working towards being more inclusive and ensuring true diversity is represented in public spaces, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. This year the theme for IDPD is "Transformative Solutions for Inclusive Development: the role of innovation in fueling an accessible and equitable world." Although December 3rd has already passed, we can be the transformative solution for inclusive development all year long. Here are some ways to do that:
Educate Yourself: Unfortunately there is still a lot of stigma associated with disability, and many people view individuals with disabilities through the lens of these false misconceptions. People with disabilities are people first. They have their own ideas, thoughts and interests and should not be defined by their disability. People should be regarded for who they are and their ability. No two people with a disability have the same needs.
Change Your Perception: Many view others from an ableism perception, assuming what a person cannot do. As a result these perceptions limit and hinder the success of people with disability. In an educational context it can look like this... a teacher seeing that a student has a learning disability and not providing challenging and enriching work for that student. If you choose to see someone from a filtered lens, you will never see the true person for their ability and everything they have to offer.
Design For Inclusion: While advocacy is important, people with disability cannot be the only ones raising their voice. We need to take inclusion into the forefront of our planning for public and private spaces. With new understanding and change perception we can take that and put it into action to help create more inclusive and accessible spaces. This is how we will move forward in "Transformative Solutions for Inclusion" 365 days of the year.
Transformation starts with you. Until we make the changes within ourselves we wont see the changes we want to see in the world. Let's change our thinking and see people for who they are ... for their ability, not their disability. #NoLearningLimits