International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPWD) is a United Nations-sanctioned day that is celebrated internationally on 3 December. IDPWD is just one day on the international calendar, yet it symbolizes the actions we should take every day, in order to create diverse and accepting communities. The intentions of IDPWD are to recognize and value the diversity of our global community; to understand and learn from the experiences of people with living with a disability; to look towards the future and the creation of a world where a person is not characterised by their disabilities, but by their abilities; and take on a commitment to create a world characterised by equal human rights.
“Having an effective disability management program ensures an inclusive work environment so that employees with disabilities can remain at work and contribute in productive way. The CSPDM supports a strengthened, professional work force that promotes strong disability management practices. On International Day of People With Disabilities, we recognize and appreciate the contributions that our members make each and every day to minimize the socioeconomic impact of disabling injuries and illnesses on employees and employers” – John Mutch, CSPDM Chair
According to the WHO World Report on Disability, 15 per cent of the world’s population, or more than 1 billion people, are living with disability. Of this number, it’s estimated 450 million are living with a mental or neurological condition—and two-thirds of these people will not seek professional medical help, largely due to stigma, discrimination and neglect. The 2020 IDPWD theme ‘Not all Disabilities are Visible’ focuses on spreading awareness and understanding of disabilities that are not immediately apparent, such as mental illness, chronic pain or fatigue, sight or hearing impairments, diabetes, brain injuries, neurological disorders, learning differences and cognitive dysfunctions, among others.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, isolation, disconnect, disrupted routines and diminished services have greatly impacted the lives and mental well-being of people with disabilities right around the world. Spreading awareness of invisible disabilities, as well as these potentially detrimental—and not always immediately apparent—impacts to mental health, is crucial as the world continues to fight against the virus.
In 2020, employers are focused on adjusting their work practices to comply with COVID-19 public health orders, and an unseen impact of the pandemic has been a decline in willingness to accommodate the return of an ill or injured worker. This further illustrates that people with disabilities are not offered consistent and sustainable support in the workplace. Now more than ever, we need to work together in identifying and addressing the marginalization, inaccessibility, exclusion and discrimination that many people living with disabilities face.