Yesterday (July 12) was Disabilities Awareness Day in the UK, which draws attention to the needs of people with disabilities, provides a fun, family event and raises money for charity.

Did you know that 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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This summer, the Paralympic Games will take place in Tokyo. In this video, a teenage wheelchair basketball player named Ryuga Akaishi discusses his dream of playing in the Games. (Turn on subtitles for English translation.) What can we learn from his story?


  1. 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.
  2. Design a poster advertising the 2020 Paralympic Games. Could they be more exciting than the Olympic Games?
  3. Choose a famous person or historical figure with a disability. Create a presentation about their life and achievements.