The International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December aims to raise awareness on challenges faced by people with disabilities during periods of crisis. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities with a week-long programme from 25 November to 3 December.
This year’s theme is ‘Building back better: towards an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 world by, for and with persons with disabilities’ and focuses on not leaving behind people with disabilities in times of crisis. The theme emphasizes the importance of strengthening collective efforts for universal access to essential services.
These include immediate health and social protection, education, digital infrastructure, accessible information, employment and other socio-cultural opportunities. The theme is being explored during events including the International Symposium on ‘Ensuring the right to quality inclusive education for persons with disabilities’ from 25 to 27 November and the ‘Disability inclusive response for COVID-19 through Open and Distance Learning’ webinar on 3 December.
It is also being explored through the ‘Share your Story for Development’ webinar which invites panellists to share their stories of empowerment on 3 December. By sharing a story, persons with disabilities will motivate those who are in a similar position or face similar challenges to make their voices heard by wider audiences and learn about the key enabling factors which played an important role for the empowerment of person with disabilities.
People with disabilities are being disproportionately affected by the health, social and economic consequences of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The suspension of a face-to-face formal and non-formal education including vocational, technical, cultural, sport and physical activities has also been extremely rapid around the world.
Global school closures due to the pandemic represented an unprecedented risk to children’s education, protection and wellbeing with educational responses to the crisis not always reaching the most disadvantaged or been adapted to their needs. Therefore, it is important to support the application of digital technologies for the empowerment of learners with disabilities and capacity building for their teachers.
Since the global COVID-19 outbreak, UNESCO has been at the forefront of the response to the pandemic, encouraging education systems to remain open and accessible to all. The programme is open to the public, and particularly to persons with disabilities, their friends, family and colleagues, and participation in the programme will enhance the celebration of persons with disabilities as empowered agents of change.