Highlights of USICD's Work in 2017

The USICD Board and Staff would like to thank our USICD members, partners, sponsors, friends and colleagues for being with us in 2017, and for celebrating our 25th Anniversary with us at the USICD Gala that was held at the Embassy of France on 5 December!

Click here to view photos from the Gala.

Click here to view a video of highlights from our work in 2017.

2017 International Day of Persons with Disabilities

International Day of Persons with Disabilities Logo United Nations Secretary-General's Message on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

"Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all"

Resilience is central to achieving sustainable development. In its pledge to leave no one behind, the 2030 Agenda embodies a commitment to building the capacities of those who face marginalization and exclusion, in order to reduce their vulnerability to economic, social and environmental shocks.

In recent years, the international community has achieved notable progress in advancing the rights of the world’s one billion persons with disabilities. Disability is recognized as a cross-cutting issue in the 2030 Agenda, the New Urban Agenda and the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction. 

Yet, persons with disabilities remain too often excluded from the design, planning and implementation of policies and programmes that have an impact on their lives. Too often they face discrimination in labor markets and in access to education and other services. 

To overcome this challenge, the path towards inclusive, accessible, usable facilities, technologies, infrastructure, services and products must be ensured by, for and with persons with disabilities. We must build on their agency, working together to design, develop and implement affordable and innovative solutions to realize equality for all. 

On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, let us remove physical and cultural barriers, build resilient societies and create opportunities that truly leave no one behind.

It's Time to be Thankful, by Dr. Patricia Morrissey

By Dr. Patricia Morrissey

A photo of Dr. Patricia MorrisseyThe holiday season has begun. It is a time when we eat too much; strengthen friendships, and ponder what we are going to do differently next year. Well, here's something you can do right now -- make a donation to the U.S. International Council on Disabilities.  Go to www.usicd.org and push the DONATE  button.

Each of us has a lot for which to be thankful. Because of our families and friends, where we live, and what we do, we have choices and opportunities to do many things. Not everyone is so lucky. In some places around the world going to school is not an option because of stigma or inaccessibility. In some places having access to health care or securing a job is rare because of inaccessible transportation. In some places deciding what you are going to do and when you are going to do it is controlled by someone else.

The U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD) works with disability organizations in other countries to strengthen understanding of the U.N. Convention on Persons with Disabilities, a disability rights treaty. It is a powerful catalyst ...

Read the rest of this blog post by USICD President, Dr. Patricia Morrissey, at her personal blog site.

Protecting civilians with disabilities in conflicts

By Catalina Devandas, Shantha Rau Barriga, Professor Gerard Quinn, Janet Lord

People with disabilities rank high among those badly affected by conflict. For one thing, conflicts degrade whatever support systems are in existence. The lucky ones can flee – but many are forced by their circumstances to remain in the conflict zone after others have been evacuated, and are particularly vulnerable as a result.

Refugees carrying possessions flee fighting, walking down a dry dirt road. One man on crutches pauses to rest, with one arm draped over one of his crutches and his head resting on his arm face down.The tendency in many countries to congregate people with disabilities into institutions creates heightened vulnerabilities that can complicate the task of civilian protection. History is replete with examples, for instance, the slaughter of civilians with disabilities at a psychiatric hospital during the Rwandan genocide or, earlier, under the Nazi T-4 programme of extermination of disabled adults and children in institutions and hospitals. Indeed, the very existence of clustered settlements – psychiatric hospitals, orphanages, social care homes and other institutions – can tempt some combatants to use people with disabilities as human shields.

Read the rest of this article in the December 1st, 2017, issue of Nato Review.

One of the authors, Janet Lord, serves on USICD's Board of Directors.

USICD Partners with the Embassy of Afghanistan on Disability Rights Conference

USICD Deputy Director, Isabel Hodge with Afghan IVLP delegates & government representatives and advocates.

On 23-24 May, USICD partnered with the Embassy of Afghanistan, the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council, and Georgetown University's Center for Child and Human Development to hold a disability rights conference on at Georgetown University.  
The Afghanistan Disability Rights Conference: From Policy to Programming was a follow-up to the first National Conference on Disablity Rights convened by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the Presidential palace in October, 2016. Under President Ghani, the Afghan government has made disability rights a national priority.
The conference, which included USICD Board members, Stephanie Ortoleva and Judy Heumann, focused on practical approaches for making inclusive education, inclusive public healthcare, and vocational training and employment opportunities a reality for Afghan citizens living with disabilities.
Afghanistan's Ambassador Dr. Hamdullah Mohib welcomed participants. Also during the first day of the event, prominent Afghan and international disability rights advocates spoke on panels and responded to questions from the audience. On the second day of the conference, USICD was honored to host the Afghan delegates for a Knowledge Sharing Workshop where they had the opportunity to speak with American experts from U.S. disability organizations.
Check out USICD's Twitter feed @USICD  or #AFGDisabilityConf to see photos from the event.

USICD Releases Consolidations of Disability Citations in the 2015 State Department Human Rights Repo

Each year, the U.S. Department of State releases an extensive compilation of human rights reports covering the previous calendar year for 194 different countries around the world. The full set of human rights reports for a single year can easily fill thousands of pages. For people who want to see only the disability-related citations woven throughout these reports, it can take a long time to wade through these thousands of pages to find them.

USICD's team has done the work for you! Each year, USICD staff and interns seek out references to disability issues throughout the State Department human rights reports and consolidate them into a single file for each major geographical region. These regional reports are also consolidated into a single, much larger file. Each file can be downloaded in accessible PDF format. The disability consolidations covering the year 2015 have just been completed and are now available via USICD's website. You also can find disability consolidations going back to the year 2010:
USICD's team is now working on consolidating disability citations that were in the US State Department reports covering the year 2016, which were recently released. We will announce in our newsletter when the 2016 consolidations become available sometime later this year.

AmazonSmile - A No Cost Way to Donate to USICD

AmazonSmile logo

You can contribute to USICD at no cost to you! USICD is a registered organization with the AmazonSmile program. That means, if you sign up to participate in the AmazonSmile program, .05% of all eligible purchase amounts will go to USICD. If you spend $500 per year, USICD will receive $25; if you spend $1,000, USICD gets $50. Just think how that could be multiplied if you get all your family members and friends to do the same. Every donation, no matter how small, takes us one step closer to realizing our vision. 

It's easy to do! Visit AmazonSmile and on your first visit select the "United States International Council on Disabilities" as the charitable organization you want to receive your donations before you begin shopping. Amazon will remember your selection, and then every eligible purchase you make at smile.amazon.com will result in a donation to USICD. Tens of millions of products are eligible for donations and such eligibility is noted with the product's information with the simple message: Eligible for "AmazonSmile" donation.
Bookmark smile.amazon.com to make it even easier to return and shop at AmazonSmile. There are no differences in prices or products if you shop through smile.amazon.com except that a percentage of the money you spend goes to USICD. 

Please take a few minutes to take this simple action if you shop on Amazon and encourage others to do the same. 

Thank you so much. 

USICD Resource Committee