Disabilities awareness

Monday, December 3, is International Day of Persons with Disabilities, a day which was created by the United Nations (UN) to promote the rights and equality of all those who are living with disabilities.

There are around one billion people with disabilities worldwide — that’s 15% of the population. In the UK, there are around 14 million disabled people, including 1.2 million wheelchair users.

Of course, disabilities are not just about wheelchairs. A disability is a long-term mental or physical impairment which makes normal life more difficult. The most common forms of disability in the UK involve mobility (52%), stamina and breathing (38%), and dexterity (27%), according to a Family Resources survey in 2015-16.

In 2011, the World Report on Disability found that people with disabilities also tend to have worse health and a higher risk of poverty than those without disabilities. Nine out of 10 disabled children living in developing countries do not go to school. In some countries, unemployment among disabled people reaches up to 80%.

But the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals pledge to “leave no one behind” by 2030. What should be done to help people with disabilities around the world?

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In a short documentary, Channel 4 News explores some of the discrimination that is experienced by people with disabilities in Britain.


  1. In the 1980s, the term “handicapped” began to be replaced with “disabled”. As a class, discuss whether it is time for a new word to describe people with disabilities, and make some suggestions.
  2. At the 2016 Grammy Awards, the blind singer and musician Stevie Wonder said that “we need to make every single thing accessible to every person with a disability.” In groups, list some of the biggest changes that you think society should make in order to achieve this.
  3. Choose a famous person or historical figure with a disability. Create a presentation about their life and achievements.