By: Dallas J. Short
“The International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) has been commemorated since 1992 to promote awareness and mobilize support for critical issues relating to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society and development. The Day works to promote action to raise awareness about disability issues and draw attention to the benefits of an inclusive and accessible society for all.
Governments, UN agencies, civil society organizations, academic institutions and the private sector are encouraged to partner with organizations of persons with disabilities to arrange events and activities to commemorate the Day.”
This year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities was held on December 3, 2015, with the theme “Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities.” One of our clients, The THRIVE Network’s focus is on inclusion matters and helping everyone reach their potential. It got me wondering “why isn’t this a bigger area of concern for others?” It also had me thinking more about why inclusion really does matter. There were a couple ideas and concepts and I’d like to give my view on them.
People are their abilities, not their disabilities. There is a large pool of untapped workforce talent, with a 10 times higher unemployment rate than the national average, who are being overlooked because of a disability. The work skills are there, the desire to be great employees are there, but they are still being brushed to the side. I want the right person on my team, that’s it. Someone who gets the job done, inspires me to work harder and being fun to be around is never a bad thing.
People should be a part of society, not apart from society. It is wrong to label someone as different and then make them feel like they don’t belong. Making someone, especially children, feel like they are less of a person because of something out of their control is heartless and illogical. Do not be afraid of what you do not know. As we grow older, more of us will develop some type of disability too. Let’s live every day of life as much as we can. You be you. I’ll be me. He’ll be him. She’ll be her. And we’ll all make it work out just fine.
Then when it comes to access for all, there are many things throughout your day that you might not even realize how many others won’t be able to do. It’s easy to get an Uber to pick you up and drop you off uptown, not as easy for someone with a physical disability when the vehicles aren’t equipped. I was lucky enough to go to my dream school, the University of Miami and if I needed any type of help, there was a multitude of resources available. However, throughout the world, more and more programs and support staff are being cut. I’m not even talking about someone getting into their dream school, students are having a hard time finding any higher learning institution where they can go, grow and learn more, with the hopes of reaching their potential, giving back to society and making themselves and their families proud.
Stop wasting so much time on what makes us different and let’s put some focus on why we are alike. The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is actually a day for us all as a reminder that we are all in this life together. We need to show more compassion and understanding for each other and make sure everyone can be included to make the world an even better place.
I feel like I could go on forever, but I’d like to hear from you. What does inclusion mean to you? What are you or your company doing to include? What would you like to be seen done in the future?
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