The annual observance of the United Nations International Day of Disabled Persons began in 1992 to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. They set out to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life. This year, the United Nations has chosen leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world as its theme.
This theme is in-line with HM Government of Gibraltar’s vision and commitment to create a society that can be enjoyed by all. The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo, launched the Special Needs and Disability Coordination and Liaison Office three months ago in the Government’s bid to create a more streamlined approach to disability. This Office has a long-term plan that will see the system revolutionise in a timely and sustainable manner.
The Office is currently developing a National Disability Strategy which includes every Government Department and targets the areas highlighted in this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities theme; participation, leadership, inclusivity, accessibility and sustainability. The Office also plans to review the Disability Act 2017 in which the issue of rights of persons with disability will be addressed. By actioning both of these documents, an accountability framework will be established which will help to accelerate change on disability inclusion.
Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities is at the centre of this year’s United Nations’ theme as it is to the Office’s agenda. It is through a disabled person’s active role in society that barriers can be broken, perceptions are changed and accessibility and inclusivity established. The Office will ensure that this happens by placing disabled people’s voices and visions at the heart of policy making. The Office has already included the voices of charities and support groups in its research for the National Disability Strategy and will continue to do so in every aspect that requires it. The Office is placing particular emphasis on the voices of the young with a disability as we need to prepare a society in which they can excel and succeed in. It is through participation that we can achieve inclusion, accessibility and sustainability.
Today, on the International Day of Persons with Disability, the Special Needs and Disability Coordination and Liaison Office asks the community to pause and reflect. Think about how you as an individual help those with disabilities participate in day-to-day life. Consider how you include persons with all types of needs in your life. Most importantly, what else can you do to help others? Help us in our bid to build a more kind and inclusive Gibraltar!
The Special Needs and Disability Coordination and Liaison Office would like to remind the public that you can contact them via email on: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling or texting: 00350 56003195.