Every year it is the same cliché: people all over the world celebrating the International Day of Disabled Persons. For one day, everyone is holding events, people are talking about disability rights and, #IDPD2018 will be trending on twitter for few hours.
But will anything really change? Will taxis start to stop for wheelchair users? Will their ramps miraculously get fixed and able to be used? Will bus drivers have the basic knowledge to know how to operate them? Will doctors start to talk to their disabled patient rather than talk to their companion? Will public places be accessible? Will disabled people stop getting turned away because the lift is not working?
The list is too long to fit into one blog because this is our reality, our daily battles and constant struggles. This is why I get irritated when I see headlines across the media of so and so ‘defied their disability’ because we are not defying our disability; we are defying our surroundings and society. Disability is not our hurdle, not the enemy and not the problem but inaccessibility, discrimination and society’s attitude are the problems that we have to fight.
The irony though is that it is those same media outlets who promote defying your disability, that on the 3 December also ‘celebrate disability’. Here the question forces itself: “Why celebrate something you encourage others to defy?”
Speaking to a few disabled people who share my view about the IDPD, they all regard it as a gimmick or a patronising celebration that means very little. The fact that the actual term “persons with disabilities”, is used rather than disabled people is an indication that the word ‘disabled’ is still an issue, proving how far we have to go. We need to embrace our disability and be proud of being disabled, not shy away from it and use different terms to describe our condition.
I look at the news and see the UK government ‘celebrating’ the day, which makes a mockery of the entire event because it is the same government which has violated the UNCRPD and is currently under investigation by the UN. Yes, this might seem a positive aspect that there is action being taken against them but in reality there will be no legal consequences, if found guilty it will just be a period of international embarrassment for the UK and nothing more.
So please tell me why should we celebrate the ‘International Day of Disabled Persons’? It is true the disabled community have progressed and achieved a lot in the last 50 years or more but it is too early to celebrate as we can’t get too complacent when there is so much left to do.