Tuesday, November 28, 2023

FEMA Celebrates International Day of Persons with Disabilities

In 1992, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed Dec. 3 as the annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This observance is designed to promote the rights and well-being of people with disabilities in every aspect of life, as well as to increase awareness in their communities.


The 2023 theme of the observance is united in action to rescue and achieve sustainable development goals for, with and by persons with disabilities. The goals were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to balance social, economic and environmental sustainability. Many of the goals align with FEMA’s commitment to equity.


"Lived experiences that involve disabilities are universal; culture, language, and social attitudes play a critical role in making space for people with disabilities to see their greatest potential," said FEMA Disability Integration and Coordination Director Sherman Gillums, Jr. “How one navigates life when using a wheelchair, sign language, screen reader, or other assistive aids to function independently has evolved over time, and people with disabilities around the world are becoming more self-determined once they see, understand, and appreciate the fullest expanse of what they can do with the right help and support when they need it. This also positions those same people to help others by potentially making their lived experiences a chapter in someone else’s survival guide.” 


FEMA is committed to equitably delivering programs and services, as well as shortening the disaster lifecycle for people with disabilities. The agency works with state, local, tribal and territorial stakeholders to provide innovative solutions for identifying and addressing concerns and barriers to access for people with disabilities.


FEMA includes people with disabilities in trainings, exercises and community-level preparedness activities to ensure the agency is delivering programs and services in an effective and accessible way. In fact, FEMA is commemorating this year’s campaign with the launch of an updated training course, Including People with Disabilities in Disaster Operations, for all personnel involved with disaster operations to learn more about including people with disabilities in disaster operations. 

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