The Totality of International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2018

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We often hear stories about people with disabilities telling either their struggles and challenges, or the incredible, “super-human” things they can do. It’s always an extreme end of the spectrum, helpless or heroes. It’s time for us to recognize that such generalizations are as dehumanizing as simply ignoring the contributions of people with disabilities.

A disability does not define a person, it is but a single trait among many that make them who they are. When we focus narrowly on a disability, we can miss the whole person.

Most people who experience disability are truly like everyone else, getting by in their day-to-day. Technology is wonderful at helping people be more efficient, organized and productive, and it holds these benefits for every one of us. The fact that something like using your voice to turn on a household appliance, or the gaze of your eyes to control on-screen commands, can uniquely benefit someone with a disability, does not diminish the fact that it really helps us all.

In 1992, the United Nations proclaimed an International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) to be observed annually in December. The day serves to promote the rights and well-being of people with disabilities in all aspects of life.

The theme for 2018 #IDPD is, “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality,” which means a lot to me and IBM.

IBM does a remarkable job of authentically promoting the inclusive workplace. That is, rather than simply tracking our “diversity numbers,” IBM continuously introduces policies and practices that support inclusion and transform our culture and thinking. Some examples include IBM’s inclusive hiring initiatives in the US and globally, like Access Blue and IBM’s Team Able, a group of accessibility allies and advocates, many of whom have disabilities themselves, who are passionate about inclusive design and contributing expertise.

This December 3rd #IDPD, let’s join in celebrating Inclusion & Equality. Follow along with us, tweet your thoughts and experiences using the hashtags #IDPD and #InclusiveIBM, and let’s “empower the everyday” together, for all of us.

  • Since the writing of this blog, the United States lost our 41st President, George H.W. Bush. Despite obstacles, President Bush championed the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which changed forever the way the country would view, treat and accept people with disabilities.

Related Links:

IBM Accessibility, IBM Research

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