Universal Signs

International Day of Acceptance - How a Day Was Born

Taking place on January 20th, there is a simple goal to this celebration – to achieve social acceptance of disability.

International Day of Acceptance – How a Day was Born

It’s always nice to have another day in our calendars to celebrate, especially following the post-Christmas gloom of January. I want to introduce you to a day I recently discovered called the International Day of Acceptance. Taking place on January 20th each year, there is a simple goal that underpins this celebration – to achieve social acceptance of disability.

As you might expect, there’s a powerful backstory to this day. This one involves the defiant and transgressive Annie Hopkins. Annie was born into a world that tried to limit her opportunities as a person with a disability, and she had to endure a media that failed to provide positive depictions of impairment. Annie sought to change that, and she inspired many with her audacity and fearlessness.

In the outside world, her tenacity and drive for equality of opportunity led her university campus to build 40 ramps so she could take part in the activities of her college sorority. Online, she had her own Youtube channel, bringing a powerful humanity and humour about her life to audiences that we don’t see enough of when people with disabilities are represented in the media.

Yet the most visible of her achievements was setting up 3E Love, an organisation devoted to changing perception of disability. She also created the distinctive symbol of acceptance, a combination of a heart and wheelchair.

The implications of Annie’s story have universal relevance. Her story is a powerful one of not accepting second best or second-class citizen status. It embraces the idea that living the type of life one wants to live should not be exclusive to a certain group of people. It rejects the notion that only some people are allowed to make choices while those with an impairment or a difference must settle for their decisions being made for them by others.

It’s an argument for liberty – and acceptance of all people expressing that liberty, no matter how we were born. It’s fitting, then, that the International Day of Acceptance is a celebration of life in all its forms. It’s a day for everyone.

Yet days such as these are also particularly important for those of us who are passionate about equality, whether it be captioners or people who work in other areas that provide services for people with impairments. For many of us, one of our prime motivators for choosing our professions was to enable social inclusion, regardless of differences. I am among that group.

That’s why one of Annie’s quotes really sticks with me: “Embrace diversity. Educate your community. Empower each other. Love life.” It’s important to understand that these concepts are all related. We can all love life more when we follow these principles.

For more information about the day, check out Days Of The Year.


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