The aim of Disability Day is to encourage a better understanding of people affected by a disability, together with helping to make people more aware of the rights, dignity and welfare of disabled people.

As well as raise awareness about the benefits of integrating disabled persons into every aspect of life, from economic, to political, to social and cultural. Disability Day is not concerned exclusively with either mental or physical disabilities, but rather encompasses all known disabilities, from Autism to Down Syndrome to Multiple Sclerosis.

Disability Day has been created so that we can all think about how we can create a society that is inclusive and caters to everyone’s needs. Did you know that 15 percent of the population across the world has some form of disability? This accounts for around one billion people! That’s a very high figure. While we have taken some great strides forward in terms of accessibility and ensuring that disabled people can live as great a life as possible, there are still steps that need to be taken. On this day, we are encouraged to think about how we can create a community that is inclusive for everyone.

This day also gives us the perfect opportunity to further our knowledge and awareness about disabilities. There are many different types of disabilities, which can fall into 21 categories. This includes mental illness, intellectual disabilities, hearing impairments, blindness, and more. It is helpful to learn about these conditions so that we know how we can assist anyone who is living with a disability.

When we talk about creating a society that is inclusive, we don’t only mean ensuring that disabled people are able to travel with ease and can go to any place they wish, but we also mean accessibility in terms of being able to have access to different jobs. There are lots of ways that we can all help and play a role in this.

According to the WHO World Report on Disability, 15 per cent of the world’s population, or more than 1 billion people, are living with disability. Of this number, it’s estimated 450 million are living with a mental or neurological condition— and two-thirds of these people will not seek professional medical help, largely due to stigma, discrimination and neglect.

Another 69 million individuals are estimated to sustain Traumatic Brain Injuries each year worldwide, while one in 160 children are identified as on the autism spectrum.

These are just some examples of the millions of people currently living with a disability that is not immediately apparent, and a reminder of the importance of removing barriers for all people living with disability, both visible and invisible.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, isolation, disconnect, disrupted routines and diminished services have greatly impacted the lives and mental well-being of people with disabilities right around the world. Spreading awareness of invisible disabilities, as well as these potentially detrimental— and not always immediately apparent— impacts to mental health, is crucial as the world continues to fight against the virus.