By Samantha Kolkey
Despite us being one day late, I want to recognize the importance of the United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Below is a message from the Secretary General of the United Nations, where he also identifies the theme for this year:
Secretary-General’s Message for 2017
“Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all”
Resilience is central to achieving sustainable development. In its pledge to leave no one behind, the 2030 Agenda embodies a commitment to building the capacities of those who face marginalization and exclusion, in order to reduce their vulnerability to economic, social and environmental shocks.
In recent years, the international community has achieved notable progress in advancing the rights of the world’s one billion persons with disabilities. Disability is recognized as a cross-cutting issue in the 2030 Agenda, the New Urban Agenda and the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction.
Yet, persons with disabilities remain too often excluded from the design, planning and implementation of policies and programmes that have an impact on their lives. Too often they face discrimination in labour markets and in access to education and other services.
To overcome this challenge, the path towards inclusive, accessible, usable facilities, technologies, infrastructure, services and products must be ensured by, for and with persons with disabilities. We must build on their agency, working together to design, develop and implement affordable and innovative solutions to realize equality for all.
On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, let us remove physical and cultural barriers, build resilient societies and create opportunities that truly leave no one behind.
Ensuring appropriate funding, technologies, medications, therapies, education, accessible spaces, and inclusive vocational and living opportunities are imperative issues at hand.
I will shamelessly promote my organization, Options for College Success, as we are a small part of the U.N’s agenda and 2017 theme. We provide an array of services to all individuals with learning challenges and disabilities for them to develop the confidence, courage, and skills to live independently, to live their best lives! We develop unique and personalized ways to support the individual in achieving their goals and following their passions. We advocate strongly for our clientele and those who are not part of our Options family.
In celebration of the day (even though it was yesterday), we encourage everyone to advocate for improved special education services in schools, for improved post-secondary options for those with disabilities (please see H.R. 3199), to think about ways to be inclusive and recognize where we are failing to do this, donate or volunteer for organizations that dedicate themselves to ensure that those with disabilities are not neglected in any way and are helping individuals become as self-sustaining as possible, and resilient members of our society.
Please check out the U.N.’s website on this day. They lay out their plans and committees, the work they are doing internationally for this cause, and for more information: