A group of organizations spearheaded by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and International Disability Alliance (IDA) have launched the WeThe15 campaign ahead of the Paralympic Games this summer to highlight the 15 percent of people worldwide — 1.2 billion — who are disabled and to initiate better inclusion over the next decade. "WeThe15 aims to end discrimination towards persons with disabilities and act as a global movement publicly campaigning for disability visibility, accessibility, and inclusion," reads a press release on the IPC website.
The WeThe15 campaign video enforces the need for respect for disabled people. Noticing differences among humans isn't the issue, keeping in mind that not all disabilities are visible. The issue is when those differences create, or are perpetuated by, barriers present in our society that make it more difficult for disabled individuals to live their lives. "Only when you see us as one of you — wonderfully ordinary, wonderfully human — only then can we all break down these barriers that keep us apart," a montage of people on screen state.
Also involved in the WeThe15 campaign are entities like the Special Olympics, Invictus Games Foundation, and the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf. IPC President Andrew Parsons said in a statement that there will be "at least one major international sport event for persons with disabilities to showcase WeThe15 each year between now and 2030."
The WeThe15 campaign kicks off on Aug. 19 with 125 landmarks across several countries lit up in purple, a symbol of inclusivity. This campaign video will play during the Paralympic Opening Ceremony on Aug. 24, while over 20,000 temporary "WeThe15" tattoos will be distributed to athletes so they can wear them during competition throughout the Games.
It's worth noting that there has been significant controversy around the IPC's classification process, with disabled athletes raising concerns over the way these evaluations are administered. Disabled athletes have also emphasized the need for more inclusivity within the Committee's IPC Athlete Classification Code, given that some people are deemed "ineligible" to compete. This Code is currently under review; it's estimated that potential changes could be implemented by January 2025 for summer sports, and July 2026 for winter sports.