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2020 Disability Awareness Month

 2020 Disability Awareness Month

Disability Rights Awareness Month, is celebrated from 3 November to 3 December annually, focusses in particular (i) as a platform of report back by government on measures taken/to be taken to equalise opportunities for persons with disabilities, and (ii) on celebrating the achievements and contributions persons with disabilities make to socio-economic development and nation-building.

This year Disability Awareness Month will be held under the theme: “Together Building Communities Inclusive of Disability Rights.” #DisabilityInclusiveSA #DRAM2020

The Disability Rights Charter founded on the principles enshrined in the 1955 Freedom Charter, informs the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities in South Africa.

The Department of Tourism not only promotes the development and employment of people of disabilities in the tourism sector through various programmes, but also aims to advance access to tourism sites and activities for people with disabilities.

Promoting universal access has become a critical component in the global tourism industry as it allows more people to participate in and enjoy the sector. This responds to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.

Universal access is the design of products, environments, programmes and services that can be used by all persons to the greatest extent possible. It also includes the removal of cultural, physical, social and other barriers that prevent people with disabilities from entering, using or benefiting from all tourism facilities and activities.

The provision for people with special needs such as access for people with disabilities is entrenched in the Tourism Act. Providing universal access allows all South Africans, in particular, the elderly, people with disabilities and families with small children, to explore our country with all its gems. Tourism’s universal access can help create an inclusive society where all people can realise their full civil, economic, social and cultural potential.

For instance, the Grading Council of South Africa, the custodian of the star-grading system, works in partnership with tourism stakeholders to create awareness and encourages tourism operators and establishments to implement best-practice standards and to be universally accessible. As Universal Accessibility grading forms part of the standard grading criteria, they further encourage all establishments to be graded as this will greatly elevate South Africa’s competitiveness as a tourism destination of choice.

This month will conclude on 3 December 2020 with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and is also commemorated locally as National Disability Rights Awareness Day.