1 – According to the 2011 World Report on Disability by the World Health Organisation/World Bank, there are an estimated 1 billion persons with disabilities worldwide. The same report states that 1 in 5 of the world’s poorest people have disabilities. Disability is both a cause and consequence of poverty, yet international policy-makers and stakeholders have not historically recognised or prioritised this issue within international development efforts.
2 – International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons
Speaking at the opening of the United Nations Human Rights Council Social Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Parsons highlighted how sport is one of the best vehicles for promoting human rights.
“You really do have to ask, is it the impairment that is a making a person disabled or is it society? The practise of sport is itself a human right and it is sport that has a unique unifying power to attract and inspire, bringing together and empowering people of all backgrounds free from discrimination,” explained Parsons who used his address to question the stigma still attached to disability.
“Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. If this is the case, then why are people with disabilities still among the most marginalised groups in the world?
3 – Home Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)Article 30 – Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport Article 30 – Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport 1. States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to take part on an equal basis with others in cultural life, and shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities:
a) Enjoy access to cultural materials in accessible formats;
b) Enjoy access to television programmes, films, theatre and other cultural activities, in accessible formats;
c) Enjoy access to places for cultural performances or services, such as theatres, museums, cinemas, libraries and tourism services, and, as far as possible, enjoy access to monuments and sites of national cultural importance.
States Parties shall take appropriate measures to enable persons with disabilities to have the opportunity to develop and utilize their creative, artistic and intellectual potential, not only for their own benefit, but also for the enrichment of society.
States Parties shall take all appropriate steps, in accordance with international law, to ensure that laws protecting intellectual property rights do not constitute an unreasonable or discriminatory barrier to access by persons with disabilities to cultural materials.
Persons with disabilities shall be entitled, on an equal basis with others, to recognition and support of their specific cultural and linguistic identity, including sign languages and deaf culture.
With a view to enabling persons with disabilities to participate on an equal basis with others in recreational, leisure and sporting activities, States Parties shall take appropriate measures:
a) To encourage and promote the participation, to the fullest extent possible, of persons with disabilities in mainstream sporting activities at all levels;
b) To ensure that persons with disabilities have an opportunity to organize, develop and participate in disability-specific sporting and recreational activities and, to this end, encourage the provision, on an equal basis with others, of appropriate instruction, training and resources;
c) To ensure that persons with disabilities have access to sporting, recreational and tourism venues;
d) To ensure that children with disabilities have equal access with other children to participation in play, recreation and leisure and sporting activities, including those activities in the school system;
(e) To ensure that persons with disabilities have access to services from those involved in the organization of recreational, tourism, leisure and sporting activities.
4 – Panel Discussion on Sports for Inclusive Development: Sports, Disability and Development: Key to empowerment of persons with disabilities and their communities, 27 June 2011, 1.15 to 2.30 p.m., Conference Room 6, UN Headquarters, New York
Sport as a catalyst for inclusion of persons with disabilities in society
The universal popularity of sport and the physical, social and economic developmental benefits derived from it, make it an ideal tool for fostering the inclusion and well-being of persons with disabilities. Sport works to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with disability because it transforms community attitudes about persons with disabilities by highlighting their skills and reducing the tendency to see the disability instead of the abilities of a person. Through sport, persons without disabilities can interact with persons with disabilities in a positive context and thus allow them to reshape assumptions about what persons with disabilities can and cannot do. Moreover, sport’s unique ability to transcend linguistic, cultural and social barriers makes it an excellent platform for strategies of inclusion and adaptation.
Sport has the power to change the lives of persons with disability in an equally profound way, by empowering them to realize their full potential and advocate for change in society. Through sport, persons with disabilities acquire vital social skills, develop independence, and become empowered to act as agents of change. Sport teaches individuals how to communicate effectively and highlights the significance of teamwork, cooperation and respect for others. Sport is also well-suited to reducing dependence and developing greater independence by helping persons with disabilities become physically and mentally stronger. These skills can be transferred into other arenas including employment and advocacy work to further self-sufficiency.