Promoting social and economic inclusion for people with disabilities in Nova Scotia is the theme of the Symposium on Inclusive Education and Employment to be held Wednesday, Dec. 3. The symposium will take place at the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel to commemorate the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. It is sponsored in partnership with the Disabled Persons Commission, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and the Collaborative Partnership Network. “This symposium is an opportunity to highlight the many contributions that persons with disabilities can and do make in the workforce and the province,” said Anne MacRae, executive director of the Disabled Persons Commission. “It is important that we continue to create awareness around issues facing the community and provide education to reduce barriers.” The program includes a roundtable of experts presenting on articles of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The convention, which was adopted in 2007, emphasizes the social aspects of disability, and recognizes barriers to full participation of persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others. To date, 41 countries have ratified the convention. “Nova Scotia has the highest rate of reported disability in Canada, and this is expected to increase with the aging population,” said Krista Daley, director and CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. “It is important that the human rights of people with disabilities are respected and protected, and when the United Nations convention is ratified in Canada it will become another tool to ensure this happens.” Other highlights include a cafe-style dialogue, a ceremony for persons with disabilities, and a luncheon sponsored by the Collaborative Partnerships Network. The symposium and luncheon are essential to celebrate the successful partnership that exists between the Collaborative Partnership Network of specialized agencies, Nova Scotia employers and persons with disabilities to realize the advancement of employment opportunities. “Persons with disabilities contributed about $25 million to the Nova Scotia economy in 2007 with the specialized employment supports of the Collaborative Partnership Network agencies” said Janice Ainsworth, co-chair of the Collaborative Partnership Network Society. “The Collaborative Partnership Network is unwavering in the belief that everyone in Nova Scotia can participate in the labour force to their individual desire and potential.” Input from the symposium will be used to create a framework for moving forward with a vision of social and economic inclusion of persons with disabilities in Nova Scotia.