Photo used for illustrative purpose.
Expo 2020 Dubai marked International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) with a flagship event located at the Nexus for People and Planet venue, exploring issues such as inclusive accessibility, education, decent work, innovation and technology, and sport.
This year’s theme for IDPD, which is celebrated annually on 3rd December, is ‘’Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.’’ Co-curated with the UAE Ministry of Community Development and in partnership with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), the ‘Shaping an Inclusive Future for All’ specialist event featured talks by leaders in government and business, artists and athletes, to demonstrate the achievements of people of determination and showcase the ways individuals and organisations can work together to achieve inclusion.
Dina Storey, Head of Sustainability Operations at Expo 2020 Dubai, said, “In line with inclusion being one of the UAE’s key values, the team behind Expo 2020 is diverse, inclusive and dedicated to the task of delivering an exceptional Expo for all to the world, with people of determination playing an important role in the event’s lead-up and delivery.
Expo 2020 is proud to be hosting this event marking International Day of Persons with Disabilities and looks forward to sharing its outcomes with the world.” Speakers at the event included Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development; Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs; Vladimir Cuk, Executive Director of The International Disability Alliance; Daniela Bas, Director of the Division for Inclusive Social Development, UN DESA and Dr. Victor Pineda, Founder and President, The Victor Pineda Foundation.
The multi-format event included lightning talks and moderated panels where participants shared success stories of bold approaches, partnerships and ecosystems that foster innovation and accelerate change by and for people of determination. Topics range from how to create a more accessible world for persons with disabilities to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Disability is referenced across the SDGs, specifically in the areas of education, growth and employment, inequality, accessibility of human settlements and data collection.
Expo 2020 Dubai is committed to creating opportunities for people of determination. Playing an active role in shaping the entire Expo experience, people of determination are among Expo 2020 volunteers and employees, while the entire site has been designed to be accessible for all, ensuring everyone is part of a global experience that celebrates the diversity of the world and encourages an inclusive future for humanity.
IDPD is a global observance celebrated every year on 3rd December with a motive to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society. According to the UN, nearly one billion people out of the total population i.e, 7 billion or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability.
Israel Pavilion marks IDPD: In recognition of the International Day of People of Determination marked on Friday, the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael - Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), Access Israel NGO, Start-Up Nation Central, and the Ministry of Regional Cooperation hosted a range of startups in the Israeli pavilion which is led by the Ministry of Foreign affairs in Expo 2020 Dubai. The startups, from both Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), presented attendees with their most advanced accessibility technology.
As part of the unique presentation created by Access Israel, the visitors were invited to perform an urban obstacle course that enabled able-bodied people to experience the type of access challenges that disabled people who use wheelchairs or who are blind/visually impaired experience daily. This activity is part of an international collaboration supported by Google and Friends of Access Israel (FAISR). The partnership seeks to create an exchange of know-how and accelerate the development of aids for people with disabilities, who account for 15% of the world population, concurrently achieving one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The venture works to increase the awareness of the rights of people with disabilities, or People of Determination, as they are called in the UAE, to full equality. As a result of the activity, visitors to the Expo had a chance to experience for themselves what it’s like to live with disabilities and at the same time discover unique and practical solutions developed in Israel.
The Israeli technologies on display at Expo 2020 Dubai include an Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) device developed by Voiceitt; medical technology and innovative communication technologies produced by EyeControl; an AI-based motion control system that analyses wheelchair seating positions developed by ReSymmetry; and a panoramic, 3D photography system that identifies accessibility obstacles in a range of terrains, including urban environments. Mahran Hamdan, the captain of Israel’s 2016 world cup-winning national wheelchair basketball team, also participated in the event.
Yuval Wagner, Chair of Access Israel, a leader in promoting accessibility and social integration of people with disabilities, regards the Expo as an excellent opportunity for regional collaboration of knowledge, models, and technologies to improve the quality of life of 15% of the world’s population.
Merav Davidian, Accessibility Officer at JNF, stated, “accessibility is a guiding principle at JNF, which offers 250 accessible sites in Israel. We will persist in our efforts to make Israeli nature accessible to all while protecting the environment and the topography.”
Michal Seror, Director ecosystem development at Start-Up Nation Central, commented, “The Israeli innovation ecosystem offers multiple technological solutions to a global challenge with the hope of enhancing the lives of people with disabilities and achieving a more precise lateral integration. Start-Up Nation Central regards the display of the Israeli techonolgy in Dubai as a direct continuation of our long-term partnership with the UAE.”
JNF, Access Israel, Start-Up Nation Central, the Ministry of Regional Cooperation, Google, and FAISR also created a collaborative social event to increase awareness. One hundred people with and without disabilities jointly created the logo of the International Disability Alliance on the Expo lawn by holding up blue umbrellas.
Expo 2020 will continue to bring the world together during challenging times, with the need for resilience continuing in the face of the global pandemic, and demonstrating that, now more than ever, we need to keep pulling together as an international community.
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