Background to the Study
The researcher do not feel the urge to go into the definitions of Persons with disabilities (PWDs), because these are persons that live with us and need no introduction. But for academic purpose: the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) defines Persons with disabilities to include “Those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.” The term ‘disabilities’ is defined to mean “a physical, mental or sensory impairment, whether permanent or temporary, that limits the capacity to perform one or more essential activities of daily life, and which can be caused or aggravated by the economic and social environment.” Hence, disability is an umbrella term covering impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. According to the Standard Rules on the equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, disability “summarises a great number of different functional limitations occurring in any population in any country of the world. People may be disabled by physical, intellectual or sensory impairment, medical conditions or mental illness. Such impairments, conditions or illnesses may be permanent or transitory in nature.” Persons with disabilities include, but not limited to the blind, persons with low vision, persons with leprosy-cured, the hearing impaired (deaf), persons with locomotors disability, persons living with albinism, the mentally retarded and persons who are mentally ill.
The annual observance of 3 December as the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in a UN General Assembly Resolution on 14 October, 1992. Prior to this, The United Nations has over the years struggled to put measures in place to see to the recognition of the rights of PWDs both nationally and internationally. While this paper may not dig deep into the history of the rights of PWDs, it is apposite to state that as a result of all the struggles and advocacy over time, the United Nations declared 1981 the International Year of Disabled Persons with the theme: “Full Participation and equality.”
As part of the outcome of the year, the United Nations adopted the ground-breaking policy document; “World Programme of Action for Disabled Persons.” Which clearly defines disability as a human rights and development issue. This led to the proclamation of the decade of disabled persons and member states were encouraged to utilize the decade to implement and actualize the provisions of the World Programme of Action for disabled persons. The focus of the decade was summarised thus: “… that the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons has been a period of awareness raising and of action-oriented measures aimed at the continued improvement of persons with disabilities and the equalization of opportunities for them.”
Since 1992, it is an annual ritual to observe the 3rd day of December as the International Day for Persons with disabilities (referred to here as IDPD). This according to the U.N. is aimed at promoting understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of PWDs. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of PWDs in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life. Hence, IDPD is a day set aside to celebrate the contribution of persons with disabilities to the society As well as increase societal awareness and understanding of PWDs and the issues that impact their lives. In other words, the event is to project the abilities of persons with disabilities and underscores the importance of an inclusive society.