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Disability Participation in Cultural Life, Recreation, Leisure and Sport

  • Synopsis: Published: 2011-09-22 (Revised/Updated 2016-11-18) - The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities contains specific statements regarding disability rights in areas of recreation cultural life sport and leisure - Wendy Taormina-Weiss (Disabled World).

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The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) contains specific statements regarding our rights in the areas of recreation, cultural life, sport and leisure.

In Article 30 the CRPD begins by stating that nations shall, "recognize the right of persons with disabilities to take part on an equal basis with others in cultural life, and shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities." It says we have the right to enjoy access to cultural materials that are presented in formats that are accessible. It also says we have the right to enjoy access to television programming, theater, films, as well as additional cultural activities that are also in accessible formats. People with disabilities have the right to enjoy access to places for cultural performances and services that include museums, theaters, cinemas, tourism services, libraries and to the extent possible - access to monuments and sites of national cultural importance.

The Convention continues to say that nations shall, "take appropriate measures to enable persons with disabilities to have the opportunity to develop and utilize their creative, artistic and intellectual potential, not only for their own benefit, but also for the enrichment of society." We have the right to access forms of media that are accessible, as well as a variety of cultural venues. We also have the right to make use of these same things through expression of our own disability cultures for the benefit of society and ourselves. With the rights to such a variety of forms of media and other venues available to us, the potential for continued and enhanced participation of people with disabilities in cultural media and venues will hopefully increase as nations pursue the Convention and our rights. People with disabilities and society as a whole will benefit from our participation in cultural media and venues.

Nations will also, "take all appropriate steps, in accordance with international law, to ensure that laws protecting intellectual property rights do not constitute an unreasonable or discriminatory barrier to access by persons with disabilities to cultural materials," according to the CRPD. In America, the copyright has kept people with disabilities from expressing their abilities through culture, for example. Governments that have signed or ratified the CRPD are to ensure such roadblocks to expression no longer interfere with our ability to express ourselves. Governments are also to ensure that copyrights to music as well as books, do not interfere with our ability to express ourselves - we must have access to these forms of media.

The Convention also says we are entitled on an equal basis with others, to recognition and support of our specific cultural and linguistic identity - to include sign languages and deaf culture. There are many different disability cultures around the world today. ASL, BSL, and additional sign languages must not only receive the respect they deserve, they must be supported. Disability cultures must all receive the recognition, respect, and support they deserve.

"With a view to enabling persons with disabilities to participate on an equal basis with others in recreational, leisure and sporting activities, States Parties shall take appropriate measures," according to the CRPD. What measures? Nations shall both encourage and support the participation, to the fullest extent possible, of people with disabilities in main-stream sporting activities at all levels. Nations will also ensure that we have the opportunity to organize, develop, and participate in disability-specific recreational and sporting activities. Nations will encourage the provision, on an equal basis with others, of instruction, training, and resources related to these activities.

Nations that have signed or ratified the Convention will also ensure that we, as people with disabilities, have access to recreational, sporting, and tourism venues.

These nations will ensure that children with disabilities have equal access with non-disabled children to participate in recreation, play, sporting and leisure activities - to include activities in the school system. Governments need to do everything they can to support people with disabilities in these regards, to include children with disabilities. Equality with our non-disabled peers in society is a guiding factor in all endeavors governments pursue in relation to Article 30 of the Convention.

People with disabilities need to have the ability to access and participate in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport.

There are questions that need to be addressed. Are intellectual property laws in a nation presenting a barrier to people with disabilities who desire access to cultural materials? Does public funding provided to cultural, leisure, tourism, sporting facilities, and organizations meet with accessibility standards? Do general accessibility plans include elimination of barriers related to recreation, culture, leisure, and sport? Is the nation providing support for disability-specific initiatives in the areas of culture and sports? Is the nation promoting and supporting deaf culture, as well as other forms of disability cultures

As nations that have signed or ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities work towards greater equality and inclusion of people with disabilities within their societies, it is important for them to remember Article 30. The rights of people with disabilities presented throughout the CRPD are all important to the now one-billion people who experience a form of disability throughout the world. Article 30 of the Convention presents us with the rights we need to pursue involvement on cultural, recreational, and leisure levels within societies.

Related Information:

  1. The Convention on the Right of People with Disabilities - Commentary


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