What is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities?
Today is the global observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, an opportunity to raise awareness and education of people with disabilities around the world. The International Day of Persons with Disabilities has been celebrated on December 3rd every year since 1992, when it was first proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3.
According to the United Nations, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities “aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.”
People with Disabilities: By the Numbers
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an excellent opportunity to highlight some of the issues and questions surrounding people with disabilities:
- 1 billion people — 15 percent of the world’s population — have some form of visual, hearing, motor, or cognitive disability. 20 percent of people with disabilities have “significant” disabilities that substantially impact their day-to-day lives.
- 80 percent of people with disabilities live in developing countries. 90 percent of children with disabilities who live in these countries do not attend school.
- In the United States, only 19 percent of people with a disability are employed, in contrast with 66 percent of people without a disability. People with a disability are also less likely to have completed university education.
- 29 percent of people with disabilities in the US are below the poverty line, versus 12 percent of people without a disability.
The exact numbers may vary from study to study, depending on how the authors define terms such as “disability.” What remains constant, however, is the fact that people with disabilities often face increased difficulty in employment, education, and access to information.
As a result, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities seeks to educate society at large about these issues, and to empower and advocate for people with disabilities whenever necessary.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities and Web Accessibility
As the “digital revolution” continues to advance, web accessibility is becoming increasingly important.
New forms of technology such as websites and mobile applications can make it easier for everyone to carry out a variety of activities: participating in educational programs, making financial transactions, applying for jobs and government benefits, and more — but only if they are accessible.
Unfortunately, not all organizations have yet made web accessibility a priority. For example, 75 percent of companies listed on the FTSE 100 index of the London Stock Exchange do not meet basic requirements for web accessibility.
Whether you’re a for-profit company, a healthcare organization, a government office, or an educational institution, web accessibility enables more people with disabilities to interact with your organization — a net gain for both you and your audience.
As we observe the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3rd, it’s important to remember how web accessibility is helping improve the quality of life for millions of people with disabilities.
Whether it’s including alternative text for photos and graphics or adding closed captions to your video and audio files, there are a number of simple actions you can take right now to make your website more accessible. Following recommendations such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is an excellent way to get started with web accessibility.