Dec. 3rd: International Day for Persons with Disabilities

Disability

Today's cause day focuses on ensuring the universal principles of dignity and justice for the disabled. These principles are guaranteed to all people under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but are often overlooked for people living with disabilities.

People with disabilities often face countless hardships every day – inability to live on their own, hardship reaching a doorknob, being bound to a wheelchair, and numerous other examples.

The statistics on person with disabilities are staggering.

  • 10% of the world’s people live with a disability.
  • There is a strong link between disability and poverty. 80% of persons with disabilities, more than 400 million people, live in poor countries.
  • In industrialized country unemployment is a huge issue for people with disabilities, with 80-90% of them unemployed.

Though degrees of disability vary greatly, some can follow a person through life. Carole Eagleman, a Milwaukee mother of an autistic adult, has recently launched a search for care for her 37-year-old son because she will soon be unable to care for him.

Carole is wheelchair-bound herself and has dedicated her life to caring for her son. In September, she launched a public search to help find a family to care for Jessie when she is gone.

Though Jessie attended special-ed classes in mainstream public school until he was 21, he has never held a job. He can dress and feed himself, but needs help with other basic tasks including bathing, using the bathroom, and brushing his teeth. He also has epilepsy, and although he takes medication, he suffers seizures every few months.

Carole and Jessie’s situation is hardly unique – more than 700,000 American adults with autism or some form of intellectual disability live with family member caregivers over the age of 60. Families in Carole’s situation have several options to care for adults with disabilities, including supervised state group homes, staying at home with a paid caregiver, or residential medical assisted-living programs, but many older parents are hesitant to put their children in group homes or do not have enough money or insurance coverage to pay for it.

To learn more about autism and countless other disabilities and to find out how you can observe International Day for Persons with Disabilities and guarantee rights for people with disabilities year-round, head to our new Disability Rights page.