To mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, disability rights advocates shared with viewers of Doha Debates #DearWorldLive programme recommendations for how disability justice can be achieved for the one in seven people living with a disability — the world’s largest minority.

The programme, watched live by nearly half a million people globally, included some of the world’s most renowned disability rights activists.

DearWorld Disability webinar

Advocate Judith Heumann, who contracted polio as a child and went on to serve in the administrations of US Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, provided practical tips for how to ensure people with disabilities receive the respect and opportunities they deserve.

Heumann said that disability needs to be normalised, as she addressed the issue of inspiration.

What we’re saying is that people should not be inspired by disabled people doing things that are typical for other people. Inspiration is something we should gather from things people are doing that are above and beyond what people typically do.

Haben Girma, a human rights attorney and the first deaf-blind person to graduate from Harvard Law School, said all her success is an example of what is possible when society does the work of removing barriers. Girma said that much work remains to be done to achieve disability justice.

One thing to keep in mind, she said, is that it’s going to be an ongoing, never-ending process.

The work will never be over. We’re all continually growing. Accept that you will always work on removing barriers.

Maysoon Zayid, a disability rights advocate, actor and comedian, set the stage for discussion by describing disability justice.

There are no groups that are free of disability. There’s not an age that does not have disabled people, or a race or a gender or an orientation that doesn’t include disabled people. Therefore, disability rights are human rights.

Viewers around the world joined the programme, with questions and comments coming from Palestine, Rwanda and India.

The show also featured a preview of one of the three short films produced in collaboration with World Enabled, an education non-profit organisation headed by Dr Victor Pineda, a social development scholar and disability rights advocate.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated annually every 3 December. Doha Debates is an initiative of Qatar Foundation. For updates and more information about the recent discussion, visit

The #DearWorldLive programme and the World Enabled short films can be seen on-demand via the Doha Debates Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube channels.