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.
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.
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).
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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.