December 3: International Day of Persons With Disabilities

This year’s 2018 Theme: Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.

What do you think the chances are that you or someone you love will have a disabiliry, or disabling condition at some point? According to the Council on Disability Awareness, “More than one in four of today’s 20-year-olds can expect to be out of work for at least a year because of a disabling condition before they reach the normal retirement age.”

Additionally, a 2012 U.S. Census Bureau report revealed that nearly one in five people8; the U.S. has a disability. Disabilities, as the data indicates, are not just unfortunate or unexpected events that happen to other people.

Although this is only a one day awareness, the theme of inclusiveness and equality is something we can all incorporate in our daily lives and businesses. Think about the curb cuts that we take for granted on our bicycles, skateboards, shopping carts, dollies, strollers, rolling luggage, etc. Did you know, the first curb cut was created in 1945, in Michigan, and it was created to provided greater access to public spaces for wheel chair users, many of whom were veterans returning from WWII.

Cur cuts are no longer considered “assistive technology,” or accessibility features, they are a part of the public space we all use for various reasons, and at this point take for granted. This is called the Curb Cut Effect, when technology originally designed for individuals with a disability, is used by and benefits everyone in the community.

The original curb cuts were retro-fitted to existing curbs. Today they are incorporated into the original designs of public spaces–just like doorways that are wide enough for all to pass through, door handles usable by everyone, etc. This is called Universal Design, building public spaces that are inclusive to everyone in the community, regardless of their abilities.

Inclusiveness improves all our lives. Our communities, schools and workplaces are more profitable, better, and more creative when everyone is welcome!

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