The International Day of Persons with Disabilities – so – what’s all the fuss about?

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities – so – what’s all the fuss about?

December 7, 2015

In 1992 the United Nations confirmed 3 December as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), later also known as International Day of People with Disabilities.

Whichever name you use this day is one marked around the globe.


Firstly, IDPD is a great opportunity to celebrate the value disabled people bring to our communities in all sorts of ways. We often see headlines in the media referring to disabled people achieving ‘despite’ or ‘in spite of’ their disabilities.  However, often they’re achieving because of their disabilities. Being part of the disability community – made up of such a rich diversity of people – is something to be extremely proud of, and certainly worth celebrating.

It may not always feel that way of course – discrimination and dismissive attitudes can mean at times living in today’s New Zealand leaves disabled people less than proud of their diversity, and unable to always see the true contribution they make to our society and families. What we can do to change that is work to make tomorrow’s New Zealand a better place and tackle, head on, discrimination and the barriers that stop disabled people achieving.

Another reason to mark IDPD is, of course, because we’re living in today’s world – which so far isn’t meeting the needs of our diverse disabled community.  IDPD gives us all another chance to advocate for those needs to be met – and for society to change so disabled people can fully participate and achieve. We need to be working in and with communities to bring about real change – and sometimes that can start with changing one person’s attitude.

Across the country today individuals and organisations, schools and workplaces are holding events to highlight a part an important part of our New Zealand culture – our proud disabled culture – and the people who make up this diverse group of family members, friends, colleagues, and citizens of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Information about what’s happening in communities can be found on a number of websites, including our own and the CSS Disability Action website.

Disability Rights Specialist Erin Gough with HRC staff at the Attitude Awards

Erin with Disability Rights Commissioner, Paul Gibson and Minister for Disability Issues, Hon. Nicky Wagner

Erin and Commissioner Paul Gibson with Disability Rights Team Lead, Doug. 

Joy Gunn and Erin Gough

Joy Gunn is a member of CSS Disability Action, an organisation committed to creating communities that are good at including all people. 

Erin Gough is a disability rights specialist at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission. 

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