As a way of raising staff awareness regarding the contributions that persons with disabilities make to societies and the challenges they face on a daily basis to make those contributions, a “Week of Inclusion” was held on December 3-7, 2018 at the central headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago, Chile.
This week of activities began on Monday, December 3 – which is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities – with the screening of the Chilean documentary “Last year,” by filmmakers Viviana Corvalán Armijo and Francisco Espinoza, which addresses the educational challenges faced by the deaf community in the country.
“Persons with disabilities make up a very heterogeneous population, which lives different realities and experiences. However, unfortunately, they share a common denominator: they see their rights violated daily,” Laís Abramo, Chief of ECLAC’s Social Development Division, said at the week’s inaugural event.
It is estimated that approximately 12% of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean has some kind of disability, a percentage that is equivalent to around 70 million people, indicated Abramo, who lauded some progress, such as the broad ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“The anchoring of disabilities in a traditional and biomedical concept, which views them from a charitable and help-oriented approach, and far from a rights-based approach, is one of the most significant barriers that people with disabilities face for their full inclusion,” the official from ECLAC sustained.
The week included diverse activities such as an inclusive fair where artisanal products were sold, the collection of books and toys, and a fundraising drive. The organizations that participated were Fundación Luz (which works with people who are blind or have limited vision), Fundación Incluir (which is dedicated to the labor inclusion of people with different intellectual capacities), Fundación Crescendo (which works with adults who have slight to moderate intellectual disabilities), Ñuñoa Autism Organization, and CIDEVI (which runs a school and a rehabilitation center for people with visual disabilities and deaf-and-blind persons).
The Fundación Luz also offers massage therapy services and delighted ECLAC’s staff with the repertoire of its Sounds of Light Orchestra (Orquesta Sonidos de Luz), which performed in the building’s courtyards on Friday, December 7.
In addition, ECLAC’s Hernán Santa Cruz Library invited the Commission’s officials in Santiago to live a multisensory experience through numerous exercises that sought to raise awareness regarding the everyday challenges that persons with disabilities face.
“Education is a critical field for fostering the inclusion of persons with disabilities. Many individual rights, especially those associated with decent work and access to social security, are out of reach for those who have been deprived of a quality education. Our societies will only advance along the path of sustainable development when there is true inclusion of all men and women,” Laís Abramo concluded.