Removing barriers for the 1 billion people living with disabilities elevates all of society

Blog 23, December 2023

International Persons with Disabilities Day

Each year, Dec. 3 is designated as International Persons with Disabilities Day. The American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers (AAADM) supports raising awareness of the necessity – and the benefit to the whole of society – of removing barriers for people living with disabilities.

Begun in 1992 by the United Nations, International Persons with Disabilities Day aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of their situations in every aspect of political, social, economic, and cultural life.

The current world population is over 8 billion people, and more than one billion, approximately 15%, live with some form of disability (80% of them live in developing countries). An estimated 46% of people aged 60 years and over have disabilities. One in every five women is likely to experience a disability in her life, while one in every 10 children has a disability.

Persons with disabilities are known as “the world’s largest minority,” and have generally poorer health, fewer economic opportunities, and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities.

Evidence and experience show that when barriers to inclusion are removed and persons with disabilities are empowered to participate fully in societal life, the entire community benefits. Barriers faced by persons with disabilities are, therefore, a detriment to society as a whole. Accessibility is necessary to achieve progress and development for all.

AAADM has long advocated for the removal of barriers to public access for all people, spurring hard-fought changes to the International Building Code (IBC) to mandate the inclusion of automatic doors for entrances to public buildings. In facilities meeting stipulated building occupant load thresholds, public entrances that are required to be accessible must have one door be either a full power-operated door or a low-energy power-operated door.

The updated IBC addresses a public need, as it is widely accepted that automatic doors enhance overall accessibility and accommodate a wide array of conditions that might make using standard doors difficult or infeasible.

Physical access for all people to all facilities – for voting, shopping, dining out, accessing essential services, and more – is vital to the independent living of people with disabilities. Automatic doors are key components in bringing this sense of agency and freedom to people with physical and mobility challenges.


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