Each year on December 3rd we recognize International Day of Persons With Disabilities, to raise awareness about the civil rights of persons with disabilities, on every level of life, be it social, political, economic, or cultural. This day, first recognized by the United Nations in 1992 at its headquarters in New York, serves as a tool to mobilize support and advocacy efforts, and inform the public about issues related to disabilities. At the American Foundation for the Blind, we believe that people who are blind or have low vision deserve to lead lives that are rich with fulfilling experiences in a world of no limits.

The theme for IDPD 2021 is “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.” Recent AFB research has examined the educational, healthcare, and economic challenges that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic for people who are blind or have low vision. Additionally, our Workplace Technology Study explores how technology influences the experiences of workers who are blind or have low vision, both prior to and during the pandemic. To chart a course toward employment environments that support leadership and participation for people with disabilities, it is imperative to create a cultural and attitudinal shift at every level within organizations. The Workplace Technology Study report, coming in January 2022, will provide actionable steps employers can take toward full inclusion for blind or visually impaired employees and applicants.

One way in which the UN has encouraged international support of the civil and human rights of people with disabilities is through the adoption of the Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities in 2006. To date, 182 countries have ratified the CRPD and 164 countries have signed on.

While AFB is largely focused on advocacy activities within the United States, we strongly support the CRPD and believe its ratification is imperative for all countries. The CRPD serves as a strand that weaves together the shared experiences of people with disabilities worldwide. Further, it not only strengthens the Americans with Disabilities Act, but it also increases international disability rights cooperation.