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  • Writer's pictureSusanne Desbrow

3rd December – International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Updated: Dec 16, 2023

International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) is a UN day celebrated every year on 3 December. The UN first recognized this back in 1992; the intent is to promote the welfare and dignity of people with disabilities around the world.

International day of persons with disabilities with animated characters of persons with different abilities and a dark blue background.

Over 1 Billion people globally experience disability (one in 7). Unfortunately, 80% of these people affected live in developing countries, where half of the people with disabilities can not afford health care.


People with disabilities compared to people without any disability are:

2x more likely to find healthcare providers' skills and facilities inadequate.

4x more likely to be mistreated in the healthcare system &

5x more likely to suffer catastrophic health expenditure.

The challenges are significant: more than one in five Canadians ( 6.2 million people) live with a disability, and this number is rising as our population ages. Only three in five find employment. Employers want to think they have accessible workplaces. However, 57% of Canadians with physical disabilities are unemployed due to barriers in the workplace. And those with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty.


According to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability, 1.6 million Canadians with disabilities were unable to afford the aids, devices or prescription medication they require due to cost.


The ten disability types identified by the Canadian Survey on Disability study are seeing, hearing, mobility, flexibility, agility, pain-related, learning, developmental, mental-health-related, and memory. Many disabilities are not visible. These so-called "hidden disabilities" still affect a large swath of Canadians. For example, the Learning Disability Association of Canada estimates that one in 10 Canadians has a learning disability.


Accessibility and inclusion are fundamental human rights. The Rick Hansen Foundation strives to create an inclusive world where people with disabilities live to their full potential. RHF created a Strategic plan which focuses on the following three strategies:

Strategic Priority #1: Creating Meaningful Accessibility

To design to the current Building code is to do the minimum for accessibility; they're unlikely to provide meaningful access for people with disabilities or allow them to participate fully or with dignity.


With their building certification, companies can adopt a higher level of accessibility in their policies and buildings. New projects can achieve the RHF Accessibility Certification at no additional cost. It requires thoughtful design, which could be as simple as materials selection, colour contrast and signage, and the positioning of controls, hooks, and mirrors.

Projects going beyond can reach RHF Accessibility Gold Certification (the highest rating) for an average construction cost increase of just 1%.

Strategic Priority #2: Empowering Canadians to Create Inclusive Communities

Educating and engaging people in the conversation

Strategic Priority #3: Financial Sustainability


Winston Churchill said: "We shape buildings, and after that, they shape us." When we design buildings, we need to look at the whole site and the building. Numerous accessibility issues and concerns start outside the building from steep slopes, steps, poor wayfinding and complicated paths. Once inside, this list of challenges can seem endless, from inadequate turning circles, hard-to-open door handles, and counters at the wrong height, to name a few. We need our interior spaces to reflect a spirit of inclusion, quality and sustainability that looks to the future. At Susanne Desbrow Interior Design, we seek to create and promote sustainable building practices and strive to enhance the lives of our clients through functional, well-designed spaces.

The Rick Hansen Foundation is a registered charity. You can donate for an inclusive future via the Rick Hansen Foundation. See button below



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