About Us

Rehabilitation International is a global organization and network that empowers persons with disabilities and provides sustainable solutions toward achieving a more inclusive society for them.


Member countries

As a member-based organization, RI is made up of people and organizations from every region of the world. This allows us to reach beyond borders to assist people in need.


World’s Population Living with Disabilities

Approximately 1 billion people live with disabilities. They are the world’s largest minority.



RI is a non-profit organization, and has been since its founding in 1922.

Founded in 1922, Rehabilitation International (RI) is a worldwide organization comprised of people with disabilities, service providers, government agencies, academics, researchers and advocates working to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities. With member organizations in more than 100 countries and in all regions of the world, RI also provides a forum for the exchange of experience and information on research and practice.

Our Mission

To advance the rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities across the world

RI’s Global Objectives

RI and its members work to protect the rights of people with disabilities, including ensuring access to and improvement of crucial services for persons with disabilities and their families. RI also promotes collaboration among stakeholders and advocates in order to build strong policies and legislation on the international, regional and national levels.

How RI Global Works

Rehabilitation International is a democratic administration governed by an Assembly, which represents its member organizations, and an Executive Committee elected by the Assembly. Policies and activities approved by the Assembly are carried out by the Secretariat, headed by the Secretary General.

RI also holds quadrennial world congresses, regional conferences and international meetings on disability-related topics, in addition to global actions through its membership. The organization maintains commissions of specialists and experts on issues in disability, which assist in developing and expanding programming and activities in accordance with RI’s strategic goals.

The Symbol of Access, which was designed by RI in 1969 and is being applied universally, has contributed to the momentum of disability-inclusive development.

RI’s Global History

Rehabilitation International grew from its small town roots in the American Midwest in 1922 to an internationally prominent organization in just a few years, championed by Bell Greve, a social worker who pioneered the provision of relief and rehabilitation services to the disabled after World War I, and Dr. Henry Kessler, an orthopaedic surgeon who established the Kessler Institute in 1949 to develop a comprehensive plan of rehabilitative medicine. Since then, the RI Secretariat in New York has offered expertise and solutions aimed at giving people with disabilities the chance to lead full and productive lives. The organization has never been large. Rather, the majority of work is carried out by RI’s member organizations, with the Secretariat as its advocate at the United Nations and other global concils.

Along the way, there have been four major name changes: The International Society for Crippled Children, 1922; The International Society for the Welfare of Cripples, 1939; The International Society for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled, 1960; and Rehabilitation International, 1972. These name changes reflect changing social awareness towards disability. At present, the organization prefers to go by the abbreviation of its 1972 name (RI Global).

Support our work.

Make a difference in the lives of disabled people around the world. RI welcomes new opportunities to expand its own capacities through collaboration with other organizations.

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