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Celebrating International Day of People with Disabilities

This year’s International Day of People With Disabilities celebrates the achievements and contributions of people with disability while also aiming to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance. Read this article to find out more about it.


Introduced in 1992 with the intention of raising awareness of disability issues globally, the United Nations’ International Day of People With Disabilities takes place on December 3rd this year. Its theme for 2020 is ‘Not all Disabilities are Visible’ – a statement backed up with a series of remarkable numbers.

According to World Health Organisation figures, more than one billion people on the planet – roughly 15 percent of the world’s population – experience some form of disability. That number and percentage, they predict, will rise in future years, particularly with an ageing population and an increase in the prevalence of noncommunicable diseases, which can include most cancers, osteoarthritis and Alzheimer’s among many others.

In the UK alone, more than 14 million people are disabled, the term defined as having “a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.”

Globally, it’s estimated that 450 million people are living with a mental or neurological condition. Of those 450 million, two-thirds will not seek professional medical help, largely due to stigma, discrimination and the fear of neglect. A further 69 million individuals are estimated to sustain Traumatic Brain Injuries each year worldwide.

In the United Kingdom, one in five people has a disability, of which 80 percent has a ‘hidden’ or ‘invisible’ disability – a physical, mental or neurological condition that is not visible from the outside but which can limit of challenge a person’s movements, senses or activities. The term hidden disability can include learning difficulties, mental health issues, mobility, speech, visual or hearing impairments. It can also include asthma and arthritis, as well as chronic illnesses such as diabetes and sleep disorders when those diseases significantly impact day-to-day life.


Read this article from Scheme customer Sarah Alexander to find out what she feels are the positive aspects of her disability.


All too often, people with an unseen disability say they feel judged; that because they don’t ‘look’ disabled, they cannot actually be disabled. All too often, they must explain why they need to park in a disabled bay at a supermarket or use a disabled toilet in a shop or restaurant.

“Living with these conditions can make daily life more demanding for many people,” says the Hidden Disabilities organisation. “They affect each person in different ways and can be painful, exhausting, and isolating. Without visible evidence of the hidden disability, it is frequently difficult for others to acknowledge the challenges faced and as a consequence, sympathy and understanding can often be in short supply.”

It was for this reason that Hidden Disabilities launched its Sunflower badge, designed to be worn to subtly indicate that the wearer has a disability that may be classed as invisible or unseen. Since its launch in 2016, the badge has been adopted globally by major airports and by numerous venues across the UK.

With such numbers to quote, it’s little wonder the World Health Organization describes this year’s International Day of People With Disabilities as “a day for all”. That theme “reflects a growing understanding that disability is part of the human condition” and that “almost everyone will be temporarily or permanently impaired at some point in life.”

This statement resonates more loudly in 2020, at the end of a year in which the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated isolation, disconnected and disrupted routines to many millions of people worldwide. The pandemic has particularly impacted those who suffer mental health conditions – now classified as disabilities and which include autism, depression and Attention Deficit Disorder. The lockdowns, combined with diminished public services and support, have led to a rise in people with disabilities feeling an increasing sense of loneliness and isolation. 

The International Day of People with Disabilities cannot not bring an end to that loneliness and isolation, but it’s hoped that by amplifying the conversation, it will be a step in the right direction.

If this has affected you, have a look at our tips on how to prevent loneliness by connecting with others.

For more information on International Day of People with Disabilities take a look at its website, and for details on the Hidden Disabilities organisation, including its Sunflower scheme, visit https://hiddendisabilitiesstore.com/

About the Motability Scheme

If you care for someone who is in receipt of a higher rate mobility allowance, you may not be aware that the Motability Scheme’s worry-free mobility package is designed to help.

The Motability Scheme supports families in staying mobile by offering a unique, all-inclusive leasing package for brand new cars from all the major manufacturers. If you care for a child or someone who doesn’t drive, you can be added as a named driver instead. And as well as standard cars from a range of manufacturers, cars with adaptationsWheelchair Accessible Vehiclesscooters and powered wheelchairs are available too.

If you’d like to find out more about the Scheme, request an information pack below and we’ll send you all the information that you need to make the right choice.

Get a free information pack

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