National Disability Day on December 3 is a day to help everyone become more compassionate and understanding of the challenges faced by people with disabilities. The day doesn’t discriminate between mental and physical disabilities, and the spirit of the day is to ensure that all people in the world have equal opportunities for work, play, health, and success. People with disabilities can be and very often are contributing and valued members of society, and today is all about appreciating them.
How to Observe National Disability Day
1. Become an advocate for the disabled
Look around your community and the places you frequent. If accommodations for the disabled are not in place, ask the shop owner, mall manager and/or your elected officials to install them.It’s the law.
2. Lend a helping hand
Inquire at your local senior center or residence, or of the nurses at an outpatient clinic, if they know of someone who needs assistance. Offer to help. Sometimes just delivering a medication, dropping off the mail, or picking up a few things at the grocery —simple tasks for you—would make the world of difference to someone with a disability.
3. Show some compassion
When you’re tired, harried and in a rush, you know you can sometimes be irritable. Don’t snap at someone who’s slowing you down,or take your frustrations out on them. They may be disabled. If so, their lives are always like that, while your problems are probably fleeting. Likewise, don’t let any bad humor they exhibit ruin your day. This is when a smile can smooth everything over.
Why National Disability Day is Important
A. It builds awareness of people with disabilities
Disabled people sometimes feel invisible in our society. People rush around them in their daily routines, barely noticing them. Today, try to make eye contact and smile (that’s good advice with everyone you see every day, not just the disabled) and be available to help should they seem to be having difficulties.
B. We better understand the difficulties disabled people have
The treasured parking space right in front of the pharmacy, the sloped curbs at intersections with the textured mats in place so the vision impaired folks can feel the curb end, the buttons to open doors automatically, even elevators on the Subway —are all in place to make a difficult life a little easier for a disabled person. Notice these accommodations today, and then notice how few of them there are.
C. It’s more than a day —it’s the law
The Americans with Disabilities Act was created to define the rights of disabled people and the design standards which businesses and municipalities must incorporate to comply with the law. Called the ADA, it is quite explicit in the standards required, and a familiarity with it could be most helpful to anyone in.