The first human rights treaty of the 21st century, the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, was a milestone in the UN’s efforts to build the groundwork for fundamental human rights and freedoms. With the highest number of signatories on its opening day, the Convention carried the responsibility of not only affirming the essential human rights retained by persons with disabilities, but also changing attitudes regarding their value as autonomous human beings.  A shift in how people with disabilities are perceived by organizations and governments is vital in addressing the unique barriers faced by them, which encapsulate not only physical and environmental limitations, but the distillation of language for clear communication, the political and regulatory norms that may impact them differently, and the preconceived notions that stigmatize and misinform. As the WHO estimates that up to 1.6 billion people worldwide may be afflicted with lifelong disabilities, efforts undertaken by organizations to acknowledge and address their unique circumstances are essential in achieving good health and wellbeing for all, the central pillar of SDG 3.

The core tenets of the Convention – inclusion and autonomy – have facilitated the development of exemplary institutions such as the Special Olympics, an organization that supports Olympic-style sports training services for persons with disabilities across 170 countries. The provision of extensive and in-depth support for people with disabilities enables greater access to opportunity, and enables dynamic participation in communities. Additionally, oftentimes the initial health screening, from Special Olympics and SightLife for example, is the first opportunity disabled individuals have for a holistic health analysis.

The following GlobalWA members demonstrate their dedication to solving the significant crises faced by people with disabilities all over the world.

Read the full article about addressing disabilities by Aneesh Chatterjee at Global Washington.