The annual December 3rd observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) was proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly. The observance of IDPD aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the inclusion of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted on 13 December 2006 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, and was opened for signature on 30 March 2007. There were 82 signatories to the Convention, the highest number in history to a UN Convention on its opening day. Canada was a 2007 signatory and ratified the Convention in 2010. In remarking on this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, LiveWorkPlay would like to draw attention to the Convention and specifically Article 19 “Living independently and being included in the community.”
States Parties to this Convention recognize the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live in the community, with choices equal to others, and shall take effective and appropriate measures to facilitate full enjoyment by persons with disabilities of this right and their full inclusion and participation in the community, including by ensuring that:
- Persons with disabilities have the opportunity to choose their place of residence and where and with whom they live on an equal basis with others and are not obliged to live in a particular living arrangement.
- Persons with disabilities have access to a range of in-home, residential and other community support services, including personal assistance necessary to support living and inclusion in the community, and to prevent isolation or segregation from the community.
It is simple, powerful, and profound. As we look to our own city of Ottawa, to our province of Ontario, and elsewhere across Canada, we must be honest: we are far from delivering on the promise of Article 19, particularly with respect to people with intellectual disabilities. Be it education, employment, housing, or culture, it is a population that continues to be segregated and marginalized. Efforts to support their inclusion in schools, workplaces, and neighbourhoods continue to be labelled as “innovative” when such an approach should instead be a matter of routine.
Looking ahead to 2015, there is a responsibility for all advocates – be they individuals or organizations – to shine a light on these issues. We must identify systemic discrimination with clarity, and with a sense of purpose that change is not an option, but rather that we are legally and morally obligated to bring to an end our investment in the marginalization of individuals with disability labels, and to instead invest in welcoming, including, and valuing their contributions.
To be continued!