International Day of Persons with Disabilities
**CW – reference to covid and mention of colonization to Indigenous people in Canada**
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Today, December 3rd, marks International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Recognition of this day originates from the United Nations’ 1992 General Assembly resolution, whereby December 3rd is observed annually to “increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.”
This year has brought many sweeping changes to societal norms and expectations; for instance, working remote has become widely accepted when, previously, we – the disabled – were often told it was impossible to do so. We have work, vocational or social meetings, education, and volunteering via solely online platforms. The hidden population who were told they were unable to attend events, work, or schooling could suddenly equitably participate in remote environments. When the world demanded isolation, we found community.
This is not to say that inequities and access-barriers no longer exist. Data suggest Indigenous people in Canada experience disability at twice the rate of non-Indigenous people. We draw a direct, causal link to colonization, a force that impacts us all whether we know it or not.
While being disabled is not a moral dilemma, we cannot ignore the impact of having different access-needs on an individual. We do not need cures; we need material support structures across all domains of health — physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Today, to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we offer the following 10 Principles of Disability Justice, taken and paraphrased directly from Sins Invalid.
- We are not only disabled, we are individuals who show up uniquely and engage in experiences of race, class, gender, sexuality, age, religious background, geographical location, language, immigration status, and more.
- Leadership of those most impacted
- We are lifting up, listening to, reading, following, and highlighting the perspectives of those who are most impacted by the systems we fight against
- Anti-capitalist politics
- What happens when you can’t work full-time or ‘produce’ enough? Our labour is often invisible to a system that defines labour by ableist, white-supremacist, gender-normative standards. Our worth is not dependent on what and how much we can produce.
- Cross-movement solidarity
- Disability justice can only grow into its potential as a movement by aligning itself with racial and reproductive justice, queer and trans liberation, prison abolition, environmental justice, anti-police terror, Deaf activism, fat liberation, and other movements working for justice and liberation. This means challenging predominantly white disability communities around racism and challenging other movements to confront ableism to create thoughtful, equitable, and just change.
- Recognizing wholeness
- Each person is full of history and life experience. Disabled people are whole people.
- We learn to pace ourselves, individually and collectively, to be sustained long-term. We resist urgency culture.
- Commitment to cross-disability solidarity
- We value and honour the insights and participation of all of our disabled community members, especially those who are most often left out of political conversations – notably, those with intellectual or sensory disabilities.
- We see the freedom of all living systems and the land as integral to the liberation of our own communities, as we all share one planet. We work to meet each other’s needs as we build toward liberation, without always reaching for state solutions that extend state control further into our lives.
- Collective Access
- We can share responsibility for our access needs, we can ask that our needs be met without compromising our integrity, we can balance autonomy while being in community, we can be unafraid of our vulnerabilities, knowing our strengths are respected.
- Collective Liberation
- We move together as people with [varied access-needs], multiracial, multi-gendered, mixed class, across the sexual spectrum, with a vision that leaves no bodymind behind. Intentional and equitable inclusion is disability justice. We honour the longstanding legacies of resilience and resistance, which are the inheritance of all of us whose bodies and minds will not conform. Disability justice is a vision and practice, in which every body and mind is known as beautiful.
Lastly, we want to highlight Access4All, a campaign advocating for equal access to education and academic success for all students at the University of Victoria (UVic). Critical access that was achieved by a move to online classes during the COVID-19 Pandemic is being actively stripped away as the university has moved back to full-time and predominantly face-to-face courses/classes.
We also want to highlight that the University of Victoria has inadequately consulted us on current and upcoming policies regarding this.
The Access4All campaign implores UVic to implement equitable accommodations for all UVic students who require online learning. Specifically, we are asking UVic to provide accommodations – by way of remote attendance and/or class recordings – for students who are either unable to attend in-person classes, labs, or tutorials or will be significantly disadvantaged academically with the absence of online options.
We call for your support to stand in solidarity with your disabled, immunocompromised, and mature kin on campus. We need your voice to help us achieve equitable access to education for all UVic students.
To show your support, please sign our petition here: A4A petition