United Nations, New York, 3 December, 2012 - Over one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability. Yet persons with disabilities, “the world’s largest minority”, often face barriers to participation in all aspects of society.

United Nations, New York, 3 December, 2012 - Over one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability. Yet persons with disabilities, “the world’s largest minority”, often face barriers to participation in all aspects of society.

Barriers can take a variety of forms, including those relating to the physical environment or to information and communications technology (ICT), or those resulting from legislation or policy, or from societal attitudes or discrimination. The result is that persons with disabilities do not have equal access to society or services, including education, employment, health care, transportation, political participation or justice.

Evidence and experience shows that when barriers to their inclusion are removed and persons with disabilities are empowered to participate fully in societal life, their entire community benefits. Barriers faced by persons with disabilities are, therefore, a detriment to society as a whole, and accessibility is necessary to achieve progress and development for all.

“Persons with disabilities have a significant positive impact on society, and their contributions can be even greater if we remove barriers to their participation. With more than one billion persons with disabilities in our world today, this is more important than ever”, UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon stated in his message for the day.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) recognizes that the existence of barriers constitutes a central component of disability. Under the Convention, disability is an evolving concept that “results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”

“Our challenge is to provide all people with the equality of access they need and deserve. Ultimately, this will create a better world for all. Together, we must strive to achieve the goals of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: to eliminate discrimination and exclusion and to create societies that value diversity and inclusion”, UN Secretary-General added.

In order to spur action to bridge the gap between well-meaning commitments and long-overdue actions, the United Nations General Assembly will hold a High-Level meeting on disability and development next year. This gathering will take place as the international community works to forge a post-2015 development agenda, presenting an opportunity to ensure that the rights, concerns and contributions of persons with disabilities are fully taken into account.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2012 marks the official opening of preparations for the High-level Meeting. It provides an opportunity to address the problem of exclusion by focusing on promoting accessibility and removing all types of barriers in society in many parts of the world, where the lack of awareness and understanding of accessibility as a cross-cutting development issue remains an obstacle to the achievement of progress and development through the Millennium Development Goals, as well as other internationally agreed outcomes for all.

More information from: http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=1597