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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

World's first disability summit launched 

UAE community development minister expected to discuss plans for the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer games

International development secretary Penny Mordaunt said disabled people were the most entrepreneurial / EPA
International development secretary Penny Mordaunt said disabled people were the most entrepreneurial / EPA

London is hosting the world’s first disability summit in an effort to bring together world leaders and key development charities to help improve the prospects for impaired people.

Promoters hope the summit will raise awareness about disabled people and galvanise governments and charities to improve policies designed for disability.

The summit has been backed by the British and Kenyan governments and the International Disability Alliance. It is taking place at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, site of the 2012 Paralympic Games.

About 80 per cent of the one billion disabled live in the developing world, leaving them more vulnerable to abuse.

“People with disabilities must not only be heard, but be at the forefront of decision-making about their lives and issues that affect them. Assistive technology must also be harnessed to empower people with disabilities to live healthy, productive and independent lives,” said a letter signed by 35 charity leaders and published in The Guardian.

“By hosting Tuesday’s summit, the UK has shown leadership in this crucial area and we call on those present to make measurable, ambitious and lasting commitments,” the letter stated.

The UK’s development secretary Penny Mordaunt said that, despite disabled people being the most entrepreneurial on the planet, they still suffer from wide-spread discrimination and violence.

Statistics show that children with disabilities are four times more likely to face abuse than non-disabled people, and 40 per cent do not get the assistance they need with daily living.

In richer countries 44 per cent of disabled people are in employment, compared to 75 per cent of people without disabilities.

“Get things right for disabled people and you get it right for all, for the whole of society. Not just figuratively, but in reality. Why? Because most disabilities are acquired, and for all our nations to reach their full potential every one of our citizens must thrive, especially those with a disability,” said Mrs Mordaunt.

“We want to galvanise the international community into action – to slash prices and improve accessibility in even the most remote areas. The summit has already had an effect. For the first time, the World Bank is to start routinely collecting disability data. Nations have come forward with new legislation and support services for their disabled citizens,” she said.

Among those to speak will be Ecuadorian President Moreno, a wheelchair-user and the only disabled state leader, and Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid, the UAE’s minister of community development, who is expected to discuss plans for the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer games in Abu Dhabi in March.

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