Today is International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Since its inception in 1992, December 3rd marks the observance of the United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Each year revolves around a different theme, and his year’s is particularly relevant to global education: “Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology.”

Over the years, advances in technology have vastly changed our ability to provide opportunities for international education without physically crossing borders. Virtual classrooms, open source technology, MOOCs, and other online platforms have allowed for many exciting developments in the field. For people living with various disabilities, however, these technologies have their limitations.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over a billion people in the world (roughly 15 percent of the global population) are living with some form of disability. This staggering statistic has me wondering how global educators can better serve students with disabilities, both at home and abroad.

Organizations like Mobility International USA (MIUSA) help students with mental and physical disabilities prepare for and participate in international programs all over the world. MIUSA also administers the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (NCDE), a project funded by the State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs (ECA), to provide free technical assistance and online resources for international education professionals and their students. The Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES) is committed to developing, promoting, and implementing universally designed accessible user interface technologies.

Here in Seattle, the public library is celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities with a screening of “Ray.” They’ll also feature demonstrations of computer and other assistive technology resources available at the library, including: talking computers, braille display systems, and hand-writing guides.

We would love to hear from you! Use the comment field below to let us know how what your community is doing to raise awareness for International Day of Persons with Disabilities, share a story, or contribute resources.