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For Immediate Release

Easter Seals Joins the United Nations to Observe the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Chicago, December 3, 2012

Media Contact:
Kristen Barnfield

Sara Brewster

Recognizing that people with disabilities have much to contribute to their communities and that identifying and eliminating obstacles and barriers to accessibility is essential to empowering people with disabilities to lead full and productive lives, Easter Seals commends the United Nations for its work on this International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

“To successfully remove barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all, we, as global citizens, must highlight progress and address obstacles as well as promote public awareness of existing barriers—barriers that deny many of the one billion people in the world living with a disability the right to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life,” says James E. Williams, Jr., president and chief executive officer, Easter Seals. “We applaud the efforts of the United Nations on this day, and we express our solidarity and support of the advances made on behalf of persons with disabilities.”

The commemoration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities in 2012 provides an opportunity to address all types of barriers to people with disabilities, including those relating physical environment, information and communications technology (ICT), legislation or policy and from societal attitudes or discrimination.

Easter Seals is dedicated to enabling people with disabilities to contribute and be productive members of society because when barriers to inclusion are removed, people with disabilities are empowered to participate fully in societal life, and their entire community benefits.

Since 1919, Easter Seals has sought to make the vision of our founder Edgar F. Allen a reality. Allen began an international movement, and wrote in 1922 that “We have but one life to live. We get nothing out of that life except by putting something into it. To relieve suffering, to help the unfortunate, to do kind acts and deeds is, after all, the one sure way to secure happiness or to achieve real success. Your life and mine shall be valued not by what we take … but by what we give.”

Today, Easter Seals in the United States, with its affiliate Ability First Australia and global partners Easter Seals Canada and CONFE in Mexico, is working to meet the needs of millions of children and adults with disabilities and their families.

“Today, our vision is to expand our services and leverage our expertise to serve millions more, and lend a hand to positively affect the lives of people with disabilities and their families wherever we are able,” added Williams.

About Easter Seals in the United States

Easter Seals is the leading non-profit provider of services for individuals with autism, developmental disabilities, physical and mental disabilities and other special needs.  For more than 90 years, we have been offering help and hope to children and adults living with disabilities, and to the families who love them. 

Through therapy, training, education and support services, Easter Seals creates life-changing solutions so that people with disabilities can live, learn, work and play in their communities. To learn more, visit www.easterseals.com.

About Ability First Australia

Ability First Australia was formed in 2002 when the following state-based organizations agreed to join forces to better meet the needs of children and families living with disability.

The founding organizations are Cootharinga North Queensland; MontroseAccess, Queensland; Northcott Disability Services, New South Wales; Novita Children’s Services, South Australia; Rocky Bay Inc, Western Australia; St. Giles Society, Tasmania; and Scope, Victoria.   

A combined workforce of 3,500 employees and annual combined operating costs in excess of $200 million support the complex needs of the individuals who receive services from Ability First Australia members. In addition, more than 3,500 Australians volunteer their time and expertise each year to assist member organizations to achieve their goals. Visit www.abilityfirstaustralia.org.au to learn more.

Ability First Australia’s Chief Executive Officer Andrew Rowley said, “Today more than ever we value working in partnership with others whose aim are to see that persons with disabilities are provided with opportunities which enable them to make, wherever possible, their own life choices.”

About Easter Seals Canada

Easter Seals Canada is a federation of 10 provincial Easter Seals organizations who have served Canadians with disabilities for more than eighty years. Working together this network is the leading provider of services to children and families living with disabilities, assisting more than 150,000 Canadians annually. Programs and services provided by Easter Seals organizations across Canada include, specialized summer camps and active living programs, respite facilities, and the provision of mobility, access equipment and family support services. For more information visit: www.easterseals.ca.

“Our goal for the future is to enable full recognition of diverse abilities within fully accessible Canadian communities,” said Max Beck, chief executive officer of Easter Seals Canada.


CONFE is a confederation of 160 associate institutions in Mexico advocating for an inclusive culture for people living with intellectual disabilities. Services provided through CONFE include evaluation, early intervention, employment training and placement, recreation, counseling and support for families, professionals and affiliates.

To accomplish Mexico’s obligations as per the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, CONFE has requested the Mexican Senate, to include the term “persons with disabilities” in Labor, Social Security and Education Laws, to recognize and respect their Human Rights.

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