International Day For Persons with Disabilities
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12-11-13 Category: Behavioral Health

Almost 15 percent of the global population, or more than one billion people, lives with some form of disability. Disability takes many forms, including chronic illness, physical impediments, mental disorders, or sensory deficiency.

December 3 is the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, a day created by the United Nations to promote understanding and empowerment for those with disabilities. The theme for 2013 is “Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an Inclusive Society and Development for All.”

Disability: Defined

The UN defines disability as having any type of long-term physical, intellectual, mental or sensory impairment that impedes people from being equal members of society. Different countries have different specific laws and definitions regarding disability.

A new model of definition concentrates on an individual’s need for accommodation or intervention rather than any type of condition or impairment. The access to healthcare, education, and technology also affects the status of disability. For example, someone in need of glasses would not constitute a disabled person in many societies; however, in an impoverished nation, he or she may not have access to corrective lenses and will thereby be disabled.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines those with a disability as someone who has a mental or physical impairment that significantly prevents one or more major life activities, has a record of having such impairment, or is regarded as having one. In the United States, many mental disorders, including addiction, are considered to be disabilities and are protected by the ADA and other laws.

The Face Of Disabilities World-Wide

Around the world people living with disabilities are disproportionately those living in poverty. Typically they have a higher mortality rate, at least partially due to a lack of equal access to basic necessities and resources like:

  • Employment
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Social and legal support

They often face social, economic, attitudinal and physical barriers excluding them from participating as equal members of society.  A few examples of some of these barriers may be:

Physical restrictions due to lack of disabled access:

  • Wheelchair ramps
  • Bathroom facilities
  • Automatic opening doors


Another barrier that may be dismissed normally is the discrimination that one may face due to a mental illness or a disease like HIV/AIDS. This is hard to quantify, but it sadly is still a reality and steps are necessary to take extra care to make sure that is kind of behavior is not validated.

World-Wide Recognition Of Disabilities

In 2006 the UN adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was a result of decades of work to change attitudes and conventions dealing with those who have a disability so they may have equal rights. The UN continues to fight for the rights of those with disabilities, and the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an important part of their campaign.

International Day for Persons with Disabilities was first observed in 1992, as the culmination of the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons, which was held from 1983 to 1992.

It is an important part of the overall agenda within the United Nations to create equality for those who are disabled. Activities for recognizing the day differ around the world. Some people choose to host events to promote awareness about disability, including art fairs selling artwork created by those with disabilities, fun runs, and similar social events. Others mark the day through protests and other activities to further promote the rights of the disabled population.

Equal Opportunities For All

At Sovereign Health, we work with a several segments of the disabled population: those suffering from mental health disorders, addiction, and eating disorders. We offer cutting edge and evidence based treatment programs to help our patients overcome their problems and regain control over their life.

We treat patients holistically, creating individualized programs to help treat mental disorders, eating disorders, alcohol and/or drug addiction, and co-occurring conditions. Many of these problems make it difficult to be gainfully employed, maintain healthy relationships, and otherwise engage in society. Through our treatment programs, we assist our patients overcome their adversities and reenter and reengage with society.

At Sovereign Health, we understand how difficult it is to live with disabling conditions. Thereby, we support creating equal opportunities for all who live with any form of disability, whether physical, mental, sensual, or intellectual, all year long and especially on International Day for Persons with Disabilities. It is important to promote change in the attitudes of people and the law so persons with disability have access to the same opportunities as those without.

Blog Post By: Jared Friedman

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