International Day of Persons with Disabilities


Did you know that yesterday, December 3rd, was the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD)? 22 years ago, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution to observe this day as a means to promote the understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights, and well-being of persons with disabilities.

Since that time, we have seen significant growth in awareness of the gains to be derived from the inclusion of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, cultural and economic life. The 2014 theme, Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology, focuses on the role of technology in:

  • Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Responses

Evidence shows that mortality rate is up to 2-4 times higher in persons with disabilities than in the general population during a disaster situation. The Day was used to highlight technologies that support inclusive disaster risk reduction and emergency responses, and how to make it accessible for all.

  • Creating Enabling Working Environments

AdultThe Barber National Institute was founded on the belief that the right to work is a fundamental human right. Unfortunately, too often persons with disabilities are not considered for employment because of negative perceptions or the incorrect assumption that accommodating persons with disabilities will be cost prohibitive. On IDPD, we drew attention to the available technologies and measures that can create work environments that are open, inclusive, and accessible.

  • Disability-Inclusive Sustainable Development Goals

The three dimensions of sustainable development – environmental, economic, and social – were addressed. Assistive technology, communications technology, and technological adaptions are among the measures that can improve the well-being and inclusion of persons with disabilities in society and development.

Teacher & StudentWe at the Barber National Institute have seen the significant positive impact of technology in the lives of children and adults with disabilities, as well as in their families. Since 2012, we have expanded our iPad count from 6 to over 100. We are working with University of Notre Dame in research evaluating the impact of robotics on the social development of children with autism. Assistive technology (communication devices) has enabled our children and adults with limited language skills to become actively engaged.

Technology is evolving rapidly. The BNI is committed to remaining on the cutting edge to ensure that the children and adults we serve have every opportunity to develop to their fullest potential.  I plan to further explore new opportunities for disability-inclusive sustainable development goals, and I have included some resources below if you’re interested in learning more as well.

Please share your thoughts with me on these important issues.


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