Summer 2016
Celebrating the ADA in its 26th Year -
& Promoting Global Independent Living

Visiting advocates for independent living from Japan join Yoshiko Dart (left side, rear row, middle) to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the ADA -- with a larger than life figure of Justin Dart at the 2015 ADA Celebration in D.C.

Today, we in the United States celebrate the 26th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Under the ADA, the United States has made great progress toward building a society of access, inclusion, and opportunity for all.  The ADA has also been embraced around the world as a model for disability rights legislation.  However, our work as advocates is not done.  We have more to do, both around the world and here in the United States.  There are barriers to pull down, stereotypes to shatter, and goals to achieve, and we can only do it together. This is the time for global citizens with disabilities to connect, to empower, and to lead!  Our interconnectedness and shared leadership is particularly important for promoting community living and the independence of persons with disabilities.

This week, USICD member organization the National Council for Independent Living (NCIL) is holding its annual conference in Washington, DC, with the conference this year featuring an international track!  The NCIL community again this year also welcomes a delegation of advocates from Japan to the conference.  These advocates, together with NCIL and USICD, share a vision to bring advocates for independence and community access together from around the world.  USICD applauds NCIL not only for its global vision, but for its years of tireless advocacy for U.S. ratification of the CRPD!

The global movement for independence is on the move.  Since the world began to join the international disability rights agreement, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), disability advocates around the world are connecting.  The sharing of diverse cultural approaches to promote independence,  building systems of support, and asserting that every individual with a disability has a right to live in the community, free from institutions, is happening as a global movement.  USICD and all of our members are committed to fostering innovative ideas, creating ongoing learning activities, including our youth, and collaborating across borders. 

USICD member Mrs. Yoshiko Dart recently shared with USICD the following remarks her husband and pioneering disability rights advocate Justin Dart made at the Disabled People's International World Congress in Sydney, Australia in 1994:

"During my remaining time on earth I would like to try my best in contributing my limited ability, capacity and resources toward a more just society and a betterment of humanity.  I know I am just one human being - a tiny speck in the vast Universe, and yet, I have my own power I can/must use--supporting USICD is one of my important activities.  It is a fact - which is being recorded in the history of this Universe."

Justin's words and leadership continue to inspire the USICD board, staff and membership today, and we hope by sharing them here they will inspire our global community.  Together, we can make the vision of the USICD membership real: a world where the equal rights of persons with disabilities are protected and advanced, where the capacities and talents of persons with disabilities are celebrated and elevated, and where people with disabilities come together across borders as a global disability community.
USICD's 2016 Gala to Celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

USICD will host our third annual gala on December 1, 2016 in celebration of the International Day of 
Persons with Disabilities.  

At our gala, we honor leaders of the              2016 Honorees!
disability rights movement whose
Senator Al Franken
impact has been felt on the international stage.  We honor those  American policymakers with the Dole-Harkin Award for distinction in public service to the global disability community.  And we honor an overseas disability rights advocate for outstanding work in advancing the rights, opportunities, and dignity of persons with disabilities.

This year we are thrilled to honor Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State, and Guatemalan Disability Rights Advocate Silvia Quan.
Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers
The annual USICD gala brings together disability rights advocates, legislative leaders, new and long-term donors, business and philanthropic
leaders, and other friends of USICD and the global disability community.

This year, we are excited to announce that the Gala will be held at the U.S. Chamber
Commerce. Visit our Gala web page to learn more about this year's honorees and watch for our upcoming newsletters to receive important updates about the event. 

Early registration will be
Guatemalan Advocate Silvia Quan 

 offered to USICD members--Join USICD today!  

USICD Board Members Attend COSP
Every year, the annual United Nations Conference of States Parties (COSP) to the Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities is held in New York.  While all nations can send official government delegations to the COSP, authority to vote in COSP matters is reserved to nations that have ratified the CRPD (pointedly, the election of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities). USICD again reminds our community that the United States is yet to ratify CRPD.  Until we do, we are not fully engaged in these important global processes.  Fortunately, the inclusion of nongovernmental organizations in the COSP allows advocates like USICD to monitor and participate in the proceedings.

This year, USICD board members who participated included (pictured below) Jill Houghton, Axel Leblois, Janet Lord, and Susan Parker.  USICD's Executive Director, David Morrissey, (pictured below at far right) also attended.  Other board members in attendance but unfortunately not pictured in this spontaneous photo included Jerry McCloskey, Candace Cable, Diana Samarasan and Stephanie Ortoleva.

Five people in business suits stand in a row in front of a painting of ferns and other plants in the outdoors

A Call to Action: Invest in Inclusion Internationally (III)

USICD's Triple I initiative (Invest in Inclusion Internationally) is focused on appropriations to the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for disability inclusion.

USICD needs your help educating members of Congress of the importance of disability inclusion efforts in United States foreign operations, including adequate staff and program capacity for USAID's Disability Coordinator and the Department of State's Office of the International Disability Rights Advisor. Americans with disabilities and our allies must be a voice for the global disability community.

Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs Interns in DC
Group of four women in a row one seated in a wheelchair the other three standing
Elizabeth Heideman, Shafeka Hashash, Vivian Fridas, and Hannah Chadwick-Dias
The newest cohort of interns in USICD's Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program arrived in Washington, DC, in late May, completed a week of training and orientation, and started their summer internships.  All participants in USICD's internship program aspire to careers in the fields of international development or foreign affairs fields and are placed at international organizations. 

Elizabeth Heideman has been placed at the National Democratic Institute, Shafeka Hashash was placed at the Women's Refugee Commission, Vivian Fridas at the office for the U.S. International Council on Disabilities, and Hannah Chadwick-Dias at World Learning.  USICD is grateful to our host agency partners for creating high caliber professional development for these talented young professionals!

A group of 16 interns staff mentors and others some seated on the floor or in wheelchairs some standing
Interns, mentors, task supervisors, USICD staff and others gather at a local restaurant in June
RightsNow! Launches Resource Portal for Disability Rights Implementation

Swirling lines in blue purple orange and gray next to the black text words Global Disability Rights Now!
Advocates in Armenia, Kenya, Mexico, Vietnam, and other countries around the world are seeking information on how to make disability inclusion a reality in their communities. They can now turn to a new central location that is filled with information that can help them transform lives!

The  Global Disability RightsNow! Website draws on the U.S. experience of the disability rights movement as well as actions taken by disability rights activists from around the world.  It is designed to be used by disabled people's and civil society organizationsgovernment personnel, and legislators around the world. It is especially designed for RightsNow! partners in Armenia, Kenya, Mexico, and Vietnam.  

Although much of the content is in English, some resources also are available in Spanish, Armenian, Vietnamese, and International Sign (IS). 

Other important features on the website:

  • Key "principles" of disability rights capture and illustrate common elements of effective laws around the world.
  • Tools and resources to put your plans "in practice". For example, users can find information on making voting stations accessible, or resources on how people with disabilities can transition from living at institutions to living at home.
  • "Impact" stories revealing strategies used by people around the world to advance disability rights. For example, how a national cross-disability council was established in Myanmar and how indigenous people with disabilities in Mexico gained a voice in the United Nations.
  • A "law" section providing information on disability-related laws in Armenia, Kenya, Mexico, the United States, and Vietnam, as well as information on implementing the CRPD.
The new Global Disability RightsNow! website is one component of the RightNow! Strong Communities through Enforcing the Rights of Persons with Disabilities project, which works to improve implementation of national disability laws and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in Armenia, Kenya, Mexico, and Vietnam. The project is a collaborative effort of four organizations, led by Mobility International USA (MIUSA) with the U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD), the Disability Rights Education and Defence Fund (DREDF), and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). The project is made possible through funding support from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.
Social Media and Global Disability Rights Advocacy: Focus on Myanmar
The Myanmar Federation of People with Disabilities (MFPD) has joined an increasing number of disability rights organizations using social media to bring global attention to their activities.  The MFPD has been actively posting photos of their activities on their Facebook page, which has more than 1500 followers.  

Presenter at podium presents with power point to audience seated at round tables
Myanmar workshop on monitoring CRPD implementation
Since 2013, USICD consultants, Janet Lord and Allison deFranco have been providing technical assistance and training to MFPD board members and community members. This assistance was initially focused on learning how to build a cross-disability coalition of DPOs. More recent training has focused more on how the MFPD can monitor Myanmar's implementation of the CRPD and write an alterative report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Alternative reports from non-governmental organizations can provide the committee with additional information and alternate perspectives on the country's progress in implementing the CRPD.

In addition to the MCPD's Facebook presence, USICD Consultant Allison deFranco has used her own Twitter account to share pictures and reports from her occasional training trips to Myanmar.

USBLN 19th Annual National Conference and Biz2Biz Expo
The U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) is holding its 19th Annual National Conference and Biz2Biz Expo on 19-22 September, 2016 at the JW Marriot Grand Lakes, in Orlando, Florida.  This year's theme is "Disability Inclusion: The Future Redefined". 

Participants will gain information for advancing disabilityBlue and Green logo USBLN Business Leadership Network Driving Success through Disability Inclusion inclusion policies and practices, learn strategies for effectively marketing to consumers with disabilities, engage with global leaders with disabilities.  College students and recent graduates with disabilities, will have an opportunity to participate in leadership development and networking activities.  Businesses will have the opportunity to engage with the rising leaders through workshops, networking, and other activities.

USBLN is a national non-profit that helps business promote disability inclusion in the work place, supply chain, and marketplace.  It serves as the collective voice of nearly 50 Business Leadership Network affiliates in the United States representing more than 5,000 businesses.

G3ict and World ENABLED Launch Defining Accessible Smart Cities Initiative
G3ict, the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs, and World ENABLED announced at the 5th M-Enabling Summit that they are teaming up to launch a joint global Defining Accessible Smart Cities Initiative. The objective, over the coming year, is to increase awareness about the role that accessible technology must play in the planning, deployment and functioning of smart cities worldwide. And, how smart cities can better engage persons with disabilities and aging communities in those processes. The initiative is sponsored by the Microsoft Corporation.

The Defining Accessible Smart Cities Initiative brings together industry, government, and civil society experts and practitioners worldwide to define how a smart city can also be a digitally inclusive city. A smart city is an urban area in which digital technologies are integrated into the infrastructure in order to provide services for the citizens and government of the city.

Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft's Chief Accessibility Officer, announced the company's support and sponsorship of the initiative stating, "Technology empowers persons with disabilities to achieve more in the places where they live and work. As cities evolve and integrate new technologies, we can help them define what it means to be smart - and accessible - to make sure no one is left behind."

The Nippon Foundation and G3ict Enter Long-Term Agreement to Promote Digital Accessibility for Seniors and People with Disabilities
The Nippon Foundation and G3ict, the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs announced during the opening ceremony of the June 2016 M-Enabling Summit that they entered into a long-term cooperative agreement to promote digital accessibility for seniors and persons with disabilities.

The two organizations will seek to jointly offer programmatic support in the field of ICT accessibility to international organizations and organizations of persons with disabilities supporting the implementation of the CRPD and in particular of its dispositions on the accessibility of Information and Communication Technologies. Those cover, but are not limited to, the accessibility of computers, mobile phones and services, television, software, e-books and web sites and their many critical applications for the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in education, the workplace, personal safety, public life and social and cultural life.

The two organizations will also jointly develop research and benchmarks to quantify actual progress made in realizing the objectives of the United Nations in relation to persons with disabilities. In addition, they will promote proven effective solutions available today to eliminate barriers to digital access affecting one billion persons with disabilities around the world.

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In This Issue
Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs Interns Arrive in DC!
A Call to Action! Invest in Inclusion Internationally (III)!
USICD Board, Staff, Members Attend COSP
A Call to Action! Invest in Inclusion Internationally (III)!
Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs Interns Arrive in DC!
RightsNow! Launches Resource Portal for Disability Rights Implementation
Social Media and Global Disability Rights Advocacy
USBLN 19th Annual National Conference and Biz2Biz Expo
G3ict and World ENABLED Launch Defining Accessible Smart Cities Initiative
The Nippon Foundation and G3ict Enter Long-Term Agreement to Promote Digital Accessibility
Events and Opportunities

2016 U.S. Business Leadership Network Conference September 19-22, 2016, Disability Inclusion: The Future Redefined

Disability and the Global South journal calls for articles on Disability in the Sustainable Development Goals: Critical Reflections, deadline to submit for first round reviews is October 15, 2016


Rio Paralympics scraps plans to expand number of sports covered live

3m children with disability out of school

For more international disability news, events, and opportunities, check USICD's Twitter FeedUSICD's Facebook page, or USICD's LinkedIn page!
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Board of Directors

Patricia Morrissey - President

John Wodatch- Vice President

David Hutt - Treasurer

Glen White - Secretary

Marca Bristo - Past President

Lex Frieden                    Candace Cable

Jennifer Dexter

Daniel Fisher 

Jill Houghton

Axel Leblois

Barbara LeRoy

Janet Lord

Susan Mazrui

Jerry McCloskey

Faith McCormick

Sheila Newman

Stephanie Ortoleva

Susan Parker

Debra Perry

Neil Romano 

Eric Rosenthal

Diana Samarasan



Government Representatives

David Baquis (US Access Board)

Joan Durocher (NCD)

Meredith DeDonna (ODEP)

Marcie Roth (FEMA)

Sue Swenson (OSERS)

CRPD Ratification Watch
As of July 2016:
  • 160 Signatories
  • 166 Ratifications
Optional Protocol:
  • 92 Signatories
  • 89 Ratifications
Recent Ratifications:
Netherlands ratified the convention on July 13, 2016

Comoros ratified the convention on June 16, 2016

Finland ratified the convention on May 11, 2016

Brunei Darussalam ratified the convention on April 11, 2016

Sri Lanka ratified the convention on February 8, 2016

Antigua and Barbuda ratified the convention on January 7, 2016

Sao Tome and Principe ratified the Convention on November 5, 2015

Democratic Republic of the Congo Ratified the Convention on September 30, 2015

Bahama Ratified the Convention on September 28, 2015
Gambia Ratified the Convention on July 7, 2015
Trinidad and Tobago Ratified the Convention on June 25, 2015
Madagascar Ratified the Convention on June 12, 2015
Kazakhstan Ratified the Convention on April 21, 2015 
Turkey Ratified the Convention on March 26, 2015
Marshall Islands Ratified the Convention on March 17, 2015
Vietnam Ratified the Convention on February 5, 2015
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