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Each year, December 3rd marks the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, bringing together activists from around the world to shed light on persisting issues and triumphs for those with disabilities. 

This year, IDPD’s theme is leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-covid world. 

As we continue the journey to build an inclusive post-pandemic world, it is equally important to treat this day as an opportunity for celebration, both for the progress we have made and for the ongoing leadership and contributions of people with disabilities in business, art, education and society as a whole. 

Here are five reasons to celebrate IDPD 2021. 

The global disability community is powerful.

Each day, the global disability community gains allies who are dedicated to making a difference. From companies that are keen to hire employees with disabilities, to everyday citizens who want to help make public spaces accessible, the community is growing and it is powerful and filled with compassionate people who demonstrate leadership by example.

Group of people with disabilities and allies stopping traffic in downtown Toronto. They are holding up various signs that promote kindness.

There is a growing number of leaders and entrepreneurs with disabilities.

Now more than ever, there is a growing number of entrepreneurs with disabilities, who are making an impact in their communities for the better, or just creating neat products that can be enjoyed by all. With the help of technology and digital tools, more and more people are able to build businesses that stray from the traditional perceptions of work, but thrive nonetheless.

The pandemic has given people a glimpse of our challenges. 

For many, the challenges faced by the disability community were unimaginable until the pandemic hit. Suddenly, everyone needed to be accommodated at work, experienced financial troubles, delays in transportation, healthcare and accessing public spaces, and felt an overall sense of isolation. Adjusting to life in the midst of a pandemic created a sense of empathy toward those of us who have dealt with similar challenges our entire lives. This has allowed for a lot of momentum to build a more inclusive world.

AccessNow Accessibility Agents mapping outdoors. One person with a cane, another sitting in a wheelchair, and their trail guide.

More and more people with disabilities are educated and employed. 

Access to education is increasing, and as a result, so is employment for people with disabilities. This has led to increased participation in society; with a disposable income, people are more free to enjoy activities such as travel and dining, and with more people with disabilities obtaining post-secondary education, they become better equipped to have a say in policies that directly affect them, and better able to mobilize their communities to participate in fostering change. 

There is an increase in disability representation in the media.

From Bitmoji’s wheelchair drop, to hit shows that include people with disabilities (Atypical, Sex Education, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad) media representation is increasing rapidly, giving those of us with aspirations to hit the big screen hope, excitement and characters we can relate to. Media plays a big role in shaping ideas and perceptions around disability, so having characters with disabilities in mainstream shows is a powerful way to mirror reality, and a great step toward an inclusive world.

Although there is much to celebrate and take pride in, the journey must continue toward inclusion. There is power in community and when we come together, we can all exercise leadership and build an accessible world where everyone can thrive. 

bio photo of nikoletta, sitting in her wheelchair smiling wearing sunglasses.
About the Author

Nikoletta Erdelyi is a writer and poet from Toronto, fascinated by how we make meaning for absurdity. She is a philosophy nerd who loves to cook, collect fragrances and write poems about the unique bits of consciousness. 

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