International day for disabled people

2 December 2011 Tomorrow, 3 December, is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities – a United Nations sanctioned day that aims to promote an understanding of disabled people and encourage support for their dignity, rights and well-being.

Stew Sexton and Shule Thomas, Founders Theatre, Hamilton talk about the theatre's accessStew Sexton, Accessibility Advisor at Arts Access Aotearoa, says it’s also a day that aims to increase awareness of the benefits of integrating disabled people in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

“For me, it will be a day for some personal reflection about the journey travelled and the one still to be taken,” he says. “There have been many achievements this year but we should also remember that this is an international day and for many disabled people around the world daily survival alone is their major achievement.

“These communities and countries are still to ‘enjoy’ the benefits that many disabled people in the developed world enjoy. Our achievements simply increase the gap.

“It’s good too to realise we’re still on this journey. We have the New Zealand Disability Strategy and this country has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. But these documents are not enough in themselves to create a fully inclusive society, where everyone has the opportunity to appreciate and participate in the arts and take a full and valued role in society. 

“So maybe we can all take a little time tomorrow to reflect on the meaning of the day and its relevance for life in New Zealand – our families, friends and workplaces.”


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