Your Stories: International Day of People with Disabilities
International Day of People With Disabilities (IDPWD) is a day where we celebrate the achievements of our community, promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and well-being of people with disabilities.
The United Nations declared the theme for IDPWD 2020 as, “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World”.
It's important that we take time to connect, celebrate and share our stories. That's why we put a call out, asking people living with disability to tell us what 'building back better' means to them.
Here are the responses we received.
1) Kathryn Mills from South Australia submitted a video:
2) Heaven Smith (#AuthorHJ) from Canada submitted a written reflection:
Throughout COVID-19 and 2020, the world as a whole has needed to adjust to how they related to what we all, fundamentally, hold dear. Access to education, to medicine, to job opportunities, and even social outings with loved ones all had to look incredibly different for most. For people with disabilities – including myself with my wheelchair – access concerns were nothing new and are a daily, life-long threat to safety and security.
COVID has allowed the world to shift quite quickly and develop new opportunities within weeks or months; when it was previously insisted that we needed years. We can, when we want to and when there’s a collective need; yet, there has always been a need.
Whether through sudden illness, a work injury, crime, a sporting accident or even aging in itself – anybody is capable of joining the disabled community, at any point in time.
So, within a post-COVID world, I would hope that our year of adjustments can become long-standing; that what was “temporarily essential” or previously viewed as an “accommodation” on a selective basis can now be understood and embraced as a more humane and functional resource for the flow and the dignity of companies and societies as a whole.
And, after this, I hope that there are some policy changes, so that we no longer need to be drained by lengthy procedures or lost within what was once considered “exceptional, extenuating circumstances” before Bodies of Authority understood that what was always needed is, indeed, possible to achieve; long before having any kind of breaking point.
COVID has made it hard to deny that there’s no need for better management and systemic change; that there isn’t a need for ease and access and connection – and our quick adjustments have, likewise, shown a global level for resilience and capability; when we choose it. So, in a post-COVID world, I hope that we keep choosing it. We can grow more when we are secure; and this could be a large step toward security.
- Heaven Smith
3) Kirk Cetinic from Victoria submitted a thought-provoking series of posters to raise awareness of autism in the post-COVID era.
I would like to see more acceptance of neurodiversity and inclusion in the post-COVID era. During this challenging and extraordinary time, people were forced to stay indoors, away from others. The pandemic has made society experience what it’s like being on the autism spectrum. I hope this design work will make people think back on their experience during the pandemic and make them more empathetic toward autistic people.
- Kirk Cetinic
Facebook: Kirk Cetinic
4) Tammy Sahlberg from South Australia submitted a video:
5) Tim Cahalan from South Australia submitted a written reflection:
Today is international day for people with disabilities and while it is a great day for everyone to come together be aware and celebrate people with disabilities and their achievements it is also a day of reflection.
I reflect that while we have come a long way in our attitudes towards the disability sector there is still a way to go. I would like to say we exist too.
A lot of times because of what the media focuses on there are so many worthy causes I feel like the disability sector gets forgotten about, which is unfortunate and no one is to blame for that.
I hope as we enter into the new year is the same thing I hope every year and that is that we see more jobs become open to the disability sector, to see many businesses become more disability friendly"
- Tim Cahalan
6) Amy from South Australia submitted a written reflection:
I am a young stroke survivor from South Australia.
I suffered a vertebral artery dissection in October 2019, which caused a stroke on my cerebellum.
Over the past 13 months my recovery has been awfully challenging.
One of the big difficulties has been managing an invisible disability. My symptoms are not seen, but they are felt.
I’ve felt like I’ve been swaying on rough seas aboard a small boat for the majority of the past year. My balance and proprioception were affected and my symptoms still vary in severeness each day.
I’d like to shout out to all my fellow survivors or those managing an invisible disability, the community is not always kind & it can be very hard.
Please see a photo of me looking “normal” but feeling so far away from normal.
7) Belle Owen from South Australia submitted a written reflection:
To me, ‘building back better’ means the non-disabled world will stop coming up with excuses around why accessibility is too hard. Covid has shown us that when it matters, as a society we can be flexible, adaptable, accommodating and these changes should stay long after the pandemic is gone. On a personal level it means focusing the energy I put into the disability justice movement and taking more time to be in community and celebrate disabled excellence. I want to do a better job of being present - recognising where we are and who got us here while also striving for progress for those who will come after me.
8) Tiffany Littler from South Australia submitted a written reflection:
"Happy international disability day to all my friends who I love so much, all my support workers that support me, and all my other friends. This is me in 2016 being very proud to have a disability. Remember just because you have a disability doesn't mean that the disability stops you from doing anything you want. You just do things in different ways, actually you just do it better."