December 3rd is recognized as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. First established in 1992, this awareness day promote the rights and well-beings of people with increases awareness of the experiences of individuals with disabilities through a political, social, economic, and cultural lens. The 2021 theme is Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World.
While Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is one of Canada’s leading neurodevelopmental disabilities, affecting approximately 4% of the population, knowledge and awareness of FASD continues to lag behind other disabilities.
Therefore, FASD is a uniquely complex disability. It is socially-rooted and is often characterized by intergenerational impacts, multiple layers of stigma, and high rates of mental health outcomes. However, with increased knowledge of FASD and the complexities associated with the disability, we will be better equipped to identify and support individuals with FASD, couples who are pregnant and parenting, as well as their families and support networks.
Individuals with disabilities, especially those with FASD, have been underrepresented for years and the COVID-19 pandemic has only deepened these pre-existing inequalities. As FASD is a significant social and health issue, an integrated approach is required to address unique challenges, recognize and build strengths and resiliencies, promote long-term health of individuals with FASD, their families, communities, and most importantly ensure that individuals with disabilities are not left behind.
We are currently advocating for a National FASD Strategy. This is a country-wide plan that will help identify the needs of people with FASD across the country, the current gaps in services and support, and the steps we can take to fill these gaps. A National FASD strategy will lead to improved knowledge and awareness of FASD in Canada and better supports for people with FASD, their families, and pregnant and parenting couples. But we need your help. On the International Day of People with Disabilities, express your support for a National FASD Strategy. Talk to friends and family, create buzz for this movement on social media, and reach out to your elected representatives.
Here are some other ways that you can participate in #IDPD:
- Help Set a Guinness Record: The Neil Square Society is raising awareness of the need for affordable assistive technology for people with disabilities by trying to break a Guinness World record for most people to take an online assistive technology lesson in 24 hours
- Sign a Petition: Disability Without Poverty is asking you to sign a petition to end poverty for people with disabilities
- Attend an event: Today (December 3rd) the Rick Hansen Foundation is hosting a live discussion on the power of inclusive language and there is a virtual Summit on a Disability-Inclusive Democracy to advance the rights of people with disabilities.