International Day of Persons With Disabilities

Saturday 3rd December was the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), a United Nations project celebrated annually. The day aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with a disability and to celebrate the achievements and contributions of persons with a disability.

I was delighted to be able to chair an event celebrating IDPD in Parliament on Monday, hosted by the Bond Disability and Development Group. Bond brought together mainstream disability-specific organisations, representing a large body of experience based on direct work with disabled people. The main focus of the event in Parliament was Disability Inclusive Education, and how we can ensure that disabled people have equitable access to education.

At the event, representatives from three disability organisations gave speeches outlining their experiences of working with disabled people. Ola Abu Alghaib, Head of Policy at Leonard Cheshire Disability, spoke about Leonard Cheshire’s “Girl’s Education Challenge” project, which focuses on addressing the specific barriers girls with disabilities face, whilst also supporting boys with disabilities to access education in 50 primary schools in Kenya.

Julie Marshall, Deputy Head of the Health, Disability, Aging and Wellbeing Research Centre at Manchester Metropolitan University, outlined the evidence on what works and how inclusive education can make a real difference to people with communication disabilities.

Anthony Ford-Shubrook, Youth Ambassador for AbleChildAfrica, gave an inspiring and personal point of view about the importance of education for disabled people, talking about overcoming stigma in education and how, as a Youth Ambassador, he has become an advocate for inclusion in education globally.

We were also joined by the Secretary of State for International Development, Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, who gave a powerful speech stressing the Department for International Development’s commitment to ensuring the UK is a global leader on disability equality and access.

It was great to hear so many interesting and engaging speakers, and I would like to thank Bond for organising and hosting the event. Inclusive education is an area where, by working together, we can make a real difference to so many people’s lives.