Reflections on International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2011


IDPD 2011 has come and gone, but our struggles and resolve remain as ever.

Here in Toronto, the day was celebrated with a gathering at city hall. Where people with disabilities gathered despite the cold to share their stories. Though the day was not without it’s frustrations, like reporters who ask for my diagnosis right after my name as if that’s what defines me, the day was a clear success.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities was commemorated in a variety of ways around the world, from a flash mob performance in Vienna and Amsterdam to wheelchair square dancing in Vancouver.

Then there were the stories from people that even those of us in th disability movement often overlook, such as refugees with disabilities, and people with disabilities in areas where some have never even heard of wheelchairs.

As the video above demonstrates, there are many barriers faced by people with disabilities internationally that many of us in privileged countries have almost forgotten. I for one am humbled of these reminders.

If there is a lesson I can take from this year’s IDPD, it is that he disability movement is shifting. It is no longer acceptable for the movement to take place behind closed doors, this genie is not going back in the bottle. What remains to be seen is whether some service providers will join us, some of whom have built themselves around the outdated myth of people with disabilities needing the able-bodied to move forward.

The UN challenged us on this day to find ways to build a better world together. Let us use the year ahead to take on that challenge, and maintain our visability as we fight for the rights of all people with disabilities.

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