Experts: International Day for Persons with Disabilities | December 3

Published: 2 December 2021

Celebrated on December 3rd, the International Day for Persons with Disabilities mobilizes support for critical issues relating to the inclusion of persons with disabilities, promotes awareness-raising about disability issues and draws attention to the benefits of an inclusive and accessible society for all. (UNESCO)  

Here are some experts from McGill University that can provide comment on this issue:  

Katherine Lofts, Senior Research Associate, Faculty of Law 

The impacts of climate change have a disproportionate impact on the lives, livelihoods, and wellbeing of persons with disabilities. Yet, although disabled persons account for approximately 15% of the world's population and are disproportionally affected by climate impacts, they have been largely excluded in the field of climate change.” 

Katherine Lofts is a Senior Research Associate in the Disability-Inclusive Climate Action Research Program and a Legal Research Fellow at the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law, both housed under the Faculty of Law. Her research interests include criminal accountability for violations of economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights; gender and sustainable development; rights-based approaches to climate change and climate-compatible development. 

katherine.lofts [at] (English) 

Karyn Moffatt, Associate Professor, School of Information Studies 

People with disabilities unfortunately continue to be seen as peripheral rather than active and valued participants in society and are often especially forgotten in the design of technology. When they are considered, they are almost exclusively viewed through the one-dimensional lens of their disability. This underscores the importance of initiatives like the International Day of Persons with Disability, which forefronts not only the rights of people with disabilities but also promotes and recognizes their contributions.  It is imperative that we do more to recognize that people with disabilities are (like everyone else) complex individuals with wide ranging desires and needs. Their potential uses for technology expand well beyond compensatory tools, and designers of technology should seek out these opportunities for innovation.” 

Karyn Moffatt is an Associate Professor in the School of Information Studies and holds the Canada Research Chair in Inclusive Social Computing. Her research interests include Accessibility of computer systems. computer-mediated communication within families and across generations, human-computer interaction and interactive technologies for older users and individuals with disabilities. 

karyn.moffatt [at] (English)  

Jonathan Sterne, James McGill Professor, Department of Art History & Communication Studies 

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the possibilities for widespread disability accommodation and greater access for all. However, at the same time, it has reinforced beliefs and practices that the lives and livelihoods of disabled and chronically ill people somehow count less than those of everyone else.” 

Jonathan Sterne is a James McGill Professor in Culture and Technology in the Department of Art History & Communication Studies. His scholarly work focuses on the cultural dimensions of communication technologies, especially their form and role in large-scale societies.  

jonathan.sterne [at] (English)  

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