International Day of Persons with Disabilities: 1 billion affected

They’re all around us, even if they’re not visually recognizable.

According to the World Health Organization, nearly 15% of the world’s population, or 1 billion people, have some kind of disability.

Cindy O’Neill, the executive director for the Arc of Tri-Cities, said this day is important because it brings awareness to issues that differently-abled people face on a daily basis.

“When you drive somewhere, is there an inlet where you can safely pull in and let someone out of the car without blocking traffic or having them cross a parking lot?” O’Neill said. “For visually impaired people, is there an audio warning as well as a visual walk sign?”

O’Neill said Arc currently helps about 2,000 people in the community but there is still improvement to be had.

“How do we look at future planning for the Tri-Cities and make it the most livable, most accessible, friendly community in the country?” O’Neill said.

One way the Tri-Cities is trying to improve is with myTri2030, a long-term plan aiming to increase accessibility in the area.

“We have the opportunity (to be better) every day,” O’Neill said. “You have to have everyone at the table to have the optimal outcome.”

In 1992, the United Nations declared December 3rd to be International Day of Persons with Disabilities.