December 3rd is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The United Nations observes this day in order to promote a global understanding of issues that affect persons with diversabilities, and to mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with diversabilities. In honour of this day, a Round Table was hosted by Sheenagh Morrison, in collaboration with Self Advocates for a Brighter Future, and the South Island Community Council was held at the Gordon Head Recreation Centre and an International Day for Persons with Diversabilities was proclaimed in 11 local municipalities!
Millions of people worldwide have invisible disabilities. Like their peers with visible disabilities, they often face stigma and discrimination as well as abuse that occurs in a range of settings including institutions, prisons, hospitals and homes. People with invisible disabilities are also at risk of exclusion from mainstream activities, education, the workforce and social activities. The goal of this “Not All Disabilities Are Visible” Round Table is to bring awareness to those whose diversabilities are invisible, and to identify best practices to including people with invisible disabilities in society.
According to the 2013 Canadian Survey on Disability completed by Statistics Canada, about 3.8 million working-age Canadians (aged 15 to 64) self- identify as disabled. That’s 13.7% of us. The 10 diversability types identified in the latest Canadian Survey on Disability study are: seeing, hearing, mobility, flexibility, dexterity, pain, learning, developmental, mental/psychological, and memory. So you see, many disabilities are not visible. For example, the Learning Disability Association of Canada estimates that 1 in 10 Canadians has a learning disability. The Canadian Association of the Deaf estimates that there are 350,000 deaf and 3.15 million hard of hearing Canadians. And, the Canadian Mental Health Association estimates 20% of Canadians will personally experience mental illness in their lifetime.