September 2016
What is your Senate candidate's position on CRPD ratification?
The CRPD Support logo which says We support CRPD on the inside and Inclusion Dignity Equality around the outside with logos for sign interpreter wheelchair audio loop and person with white cane

With national elections coming up this November, USICD is asking candidates in open races for election to the U.S. Senate one question: what is their position on U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD is the first international agreement among countries to uphold and protect the human rights of people with disabilities. 

We are maintaining a web page that shows the latest information on which Senate candidates say they support U.S. ratification of the CRPD, which candidates oppose ratification, and which candidates have not yet responded to our survey. Visit the page now to learn if the candidates for your state support the CRPD!  

Have the candidates for your state not responded to USICD's question yet? Please help us collect answers from all candidates! Reach out to the campaign teams for the Senate candidates in your state and ask them to respond to USICD's question on whether they support U.S. ratification of the "Disability Treaty" (CRPD).

So far 166 countries have ratified the CRPD, but the U.S. has not yet joined them. The U.S. can only ratify an international treaty if a "super majority" two-thirds of the Senate votes in support of ratification.  USICD's CRPD Education & Advocacy program is not possible without community support.  Will you help us?
Advocates from Six Countries Convene in Washington, DC, to Activate Disability Rights Implementation!
 Swirling lines in blue purple orange and gray next to the black text words Global Disability Rights Now_
The U.S. International council on Disabilities (USICD), in partnership with three other leading U.S. organizations, is honored to welcome a delegation of 25 disability rights leaders from six countries to Washington, DC, for the RightsNow!: Exploring the U.S. Model conference from September 17 to 24, 2016. This prestigious and high-level conference is part of the RightsNow!: Strong Communities Through Enforcing the rights of Persons with Disabilities Project, funded by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the U.S. Department of State and administrated by MIUSA. In addition to MIUSA, USICD also partners with the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) and the International Foundation on Electoral Systems (IFES) to implement the RightsNow! project. 

Learn more about the conference at
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!  

Myanmar Disability Community Learns CRPD Alterative Reporting Process
USICD Consultant Allison deFranco made another trip to Myanmar to provide technical assistance and training to local leaders and trainers. This has included co-presenting training sessions on how Myanmar's disability community can be engaged with writing an alternative, or "shadow," report on Myanmar's implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). A group of more than 15 people are seated around conference tables engaged in a workshop

When countries ratify the international disability rights treaty, they commit to writing a report on how they are implementing the CRPD and submitting it to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In addition to the official report from the government, civil society organizations, including disabled people's organizations (DPO), can write their own reports on how the CRPD is being implemBanner says Alternative Report Workshop August 2016 MFPD Office Yangon Banner has logos for USAID FHI360 World Learning USICD and the Myanmar Federation of Persons with Disabilities ented in their country. Writing these "shadow" reports enables DPOs and other civil society organizations to highlight challenges and gaps in CRPD implementation that the official report from the government might not cover. 
Summer 2016 Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs Internship Program Complete
This summer, USICD brought four young emerging professionals with disabilities in Washington, DC, as part of its annual Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program. The interns left DC for the summer at the end of July. Five women dressed in Hawaii costumes and props post in front of large image of Hawaiian palm trees

USICD's internship program is targeted at students and recent graduates with disabilities who aspire to careers in the international development or foreign affairs field. Each year since 2013, USICD's internship program has placed a small cohort of interns, selected from a field of nearly 100 applicants, at various international organizations with offices in the Washington, DC area.  USICD program interns start their summer with a week of training and orientation,
Two women sit talking at a table with the logo of the Womens Refugee Commission on the red wall behind them
Intern Shafeka Hashash and Task Supervisor Joan Timoney at Womens Refugee Commission
followed by eight weeks of full time internship at their host organization. During the summer, they stay in shared dormitory housing at a local university in Washington, DC.  During the past four years, USICD has placed 24 interns at 17 different host organizations, including organizations such as World Learning, Human Rights Watch, Management Sciences for Health, the National Democratic Institute, the State Department, Women's Enabled International, and others.

USICD will soon announce details about the application process for the summer 2017 program. Sign up for the Youth in Development mailing list to receive an email notice as soon as USICD opens for applications, either via USICD's website or by sending an email to to ask to be added.

Learn more about USICD's internship program at

Read blog posts written by USICD interns at 
USICD Staff Meets with Kenyan Visitor
During the summer, disability rights advocate Beth Wanjiku Mdirangu joined a group of 25 Youg African Leadership Institute (YALI) Fellows to attend the Staley Leadership Institute at Kansas State University for six weeks. As a woman with cerebral palsy, her goal is to build her nascent organization, Cerebral Palsy Kenya, into a non-funded agency. Its members are uneducated parents of children with cerebral palsy who lack access to the Internet.

Beth Wanjiku Mdirangu and Isabel Hodge stand with USICD banner with a picture of hands holding a globe with the slogan Connecting the Global Community of Persons with Disabilities During the last week of her leadership training program, Beth Wanjiku Mdirangu and the other YALI participants came to Washington, DC. During that time, Beth met with USICD Deputy Director Isabel Hodge. They talked about the situation of people with disabilities in the U.S., including the U.S. law Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), reasonable accommodations, disability support services in colleges and universities. They also talked about the types of support that people receive in Kenya.
USICD Staff and Board Member Present for IREX CSP Fellows
In August, USICD Deputy Director Isabel Hodge and USICD Board member Stephanie Ortoleva, Founder and President of Women Enabled International, presented at an orientation session for the IREX Community Solutions Program (CSP).

The Community Solutions Program provides professional development experience for talented global community leaders who work in transparency and accountability, tolerance and conflict resolution, environmental issues, and women and gender issues. Leaders from around the world participate in a four month US fellowship with local nonprofit organizations or government agencies and then design and implement follow-on projects in their home countries.

Isabel Hodge and Stephanie Ortoleva presented on conflict and tolerance to the most recent cohort of international fellows who came from Ghana, Syria, Jordan, Romania, Vietnam, and elsewhere.
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In This Issue
How Will Your Senators Vote on the Disability Treaty (CRPD)?
Advocates from Six Countries Convene in Washington, DC, to Activate Disability Rights Implementation!
USICD's 2016 Gala to Celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Myanmar Disability Community Learns CRPD Shadow Reporting Process
Summer 2016 Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program complete
USICD Staff Meets with Kenyan Visitor
USICD Staff and Board Member Present for IREX CSP Fellows
Events and Opportunities

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

Gallaudet-Nippon World Deaf Leadership (WDL) Scholarship is now open for applications for deaf advocates from developing countries until 30 September 2016

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

Submissions are now being accepted for the UN Enable Film Festival, which presents short disability-related films. Deadline November 20, 2016.


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

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 September 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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