Disability Awareness Month – July 2023

July 5th, 2023
 - High Hopes Dubai

Disability Awareness Month – July 2023 - High Hopes Dubai

What is Disability Awareness Month?

The Disability Awareness Month is a month to raise awareness about disability rights and the challenges that people with disabilities face every day. It’s a time to advocate for positive change and celebrate the diversity they bring to our communities. Disability Awareness was recognised as a worldwide event in 2015 to mark the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Disability Act in the United States of America. This act prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities. Since then, many countries recognise July as Disability Awareness Month.

Occupational Therapy plays an important role in helping individuals with disabilities participate in daily activities at home, in school and in the wider community. In addition, Occupational Therapists often act as advocates to raise awareness in the community to break down the barriers that prevent individuals with disabilities to fully participate in society.

Why should there be a month for Disability Awareness?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 1 billion people (around 15% of the population) live with a disability. Evidence suggests the true number could be even higher as many more go undiagnosed or are actively seeking answers. Disability is not limited to a specific age, gender, or socio-economic group. It can impact anyone at any point in their life. It is important to dedicate a month in which we can learn more about the different disabilities that may be hidden or more obvious.

This month is a chance to celebrate the lives and achievements to people with disabilities, to communicate with those around you, to raise awareness, and advocate for change for those with disabilities and their families. Some ways to raise awareness are writing to your local newspaper, speaking to your employers about inclusivity, or sharing information on social media. Great initiatives on a national level are represented by making accessible beaches or writing to the government to make changes to policies.

Today, many people with disabilities still face stigma and daily barriers to engaging in occupations that are meaningful to them. Every person in the world is unique, complex and has their own wants and needs. People with disabilities face even more difficulties to have their wants and needs heard, and more challenges to have their diverse needs met. Therefore, it is important that we do not treat everyone with a disability the same but provide equity and equal opportunities.

Disability Awareness in Dubai:

Dubai’s Government has put in place various measures aimed at ensuring the inclusion and participation of people with disabilities in our society. For instance, the Dubai Disability Strategy 2020 provides a roadmap for creating an inclusive society where people with disabilities have equal opportunities and rights. Dubai has made strides towards a more inclusive society, but as citizens and residents of Dubai, we must support the government in achieving this vision in our everyday life.

The term ‘People of Determination’ is used in Dubai and other parts of the United Arab Emirates as a way of acknowledging the unique abilities and strengths of individuals with disabilities. This approach to using this respectful vocabulary is seen as one that emphasizes people’s positive qualities and highlights their potential to achieve success in all areas of life, despite the challenges they may face. It is in line with Dubai’s larger vision of creating an inclusive society that empowers everybody in it.

Points to learn and continue throughout 2023:

  • Being disabled is not shameful or a bad word to say. Ask a person with a disability if they need help or support instead of assuming that they do. Don’t be scared to ask questions (this includes letting your children ask questions too) and don’t try to avoid what you may think is an awkward conversation.
  • Educate yourself and others by taking the time to learn about disabilities to break down stereotypes.
  • Make time for volunteering in organisations that support people with disabilities.
  • Actively challenge the environment you are in. If you go to a building without a lift, consider how a person in a wheelchair will get in. If you are in a cinema and hear someone shouting at another parent because their disabled child won’t be quiet, speak up to support them and challenge negative attitude.
  • This month, share your stripes with Awareness, talk to your colleagues, friends and family about disability month and work together towards a better future for those with disabilities.

At High Hopes Pediatric Therapy Center, we will celebrate this Disability Awareness Month by painting and decorating our own Disability Awareness flags, sharing information on our social media platforms, wearing the colours of the flag and as always, advocating for our children with disabilities and their families. These are just a few ideas that you can do to mark Disability Awareness Month 2023.

“I don’t need easy. I just need possible.” – Bethany Hamilton