RI Global What’s On: January 2017 Newsletter, a Hopeful Year Ahead

RI Global What’s On January 2017: RI Begins a Hopeful Year Ahead
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Outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the White House during the UN’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) on 2 December 2016.

January 2017 Newsletter: Beginning a Hopeful Year Ahead

RI Looks Back and Returns with a Full Agenda for Disabilities
The year wrapped up for Rehabilitation International with the release of its 2015 Annual Report, now available on the website. Many things happened at RI in 2015 and in 2016, with an annual report for 2016 coming in the next month, here are a few highlights:

At the 54th Session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD54) in February, RI Global Secretary-General Venus Ilagan highlighted the many challenges disabled people face in accessing employment, saying that if earning an income marked an important requisite towards achieving some levels of independence for ordinary people, it mattered even more so for persons with disabilities. “If one earns an income and is managing his or her own finances, he or she can direct the course of his or her life and would enjoy better recognition and treatment from those in her family, community and society,” Ms. Ilagan said. A month later, she and President Jan Monsbakken were at the 60th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, where RI Global held a panel on sustainable development through women’s organizations.

The summer brought the 9th Annual Conference of States Parties, where RI Global not only Co-Presented a WHO Panel on Access to Assistive Technology for Inclusive Development following the launch of the WHO’s Priority Assistive Products List and presented a Presidential Plaque to H.E. Ambassador Oh Joon of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations, in appreciation of his exemplary dedication to disability and rehabilitation. RI Global also joined in its second Disability Pride Marchand prepared to send outgoing President Jan Monsbakken and new President Zhang Haidi to the Paralympics.

Finally, following the opening of the 71st General Assembly during which the UNFPA launched the WE DECIDE Knowledge Gateway for its programme on youth and disability WE DECIDE. Young Persons with Disabilities: Equal Rights and a Life Free of Violence, RI Global held its 23rd World Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland. A undisputed success, the World Congress brought people from around the world to speak about disability issues, including Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Princess Royal, Princess Anne, and ushered in a new era of work for the organization. Stay tuned for the report coming in February and for an equally productive 2017!

RI GLOBAL: The Year Ahead

The first UN World Data Forum provides an opportunity for data and statistics experts from around the world to inform evidence-based policy decisions on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

RI Global Calendar for 2017

UN World Data Forum

The first UN World Data Forum will be hosted by Statistics South Africa from 15 to 18 January 2017, with support from the Statistics Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, under the guidance of the United Nations Statistical Commission. It will be an opportunity for data and statistics experts from around the world to: EXPLORE innovative ways to apply data and statistics to measure global progress and inform evidence-based policy decisions on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and LAUNCH new initiatives and solutions that will deliver better data for all.
15 to 18 January 2017, Cape Town, South Africa

55th Commission for Social Development (CSocD55)
The fifty-fifth session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD55) has a priority theme for the 2017-2018 review and policy cycle: Strategies for the eradication of poverty to achieve sustainable development for all. Side events will feature a panel co-presented by RI Global Secretary-General Venus Ilagan
1 to 10 February, UN Headquarters, New York, NY

Third Symposium Franco-Latin American Research on Disability
The central theme of this 3rd symposium is Equality and Dignity. Bringing together academics and civil society groups, this convention discusses the reinforcement for development as well as the sustainment and expansion of policies for the inclusion of persons with disabilities, accessibility (universal design) and, consequently, social responsibility  and dignity.
9 to 11 March, Porto Alegre, Brazil

UNISDR Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction,
This platform is a biennial forum for information exchange, discussion of latest developments, knowledge and partnership-building across sectors, with the goal of improving implementation of disaster risk reduction through better communication and coordination amongst stakeholders, including persons with disabilities.
22 to 26 May, Cancun, Mexico 

10th Conference of States Parties to the CRPD
Article 40 of the Convention stipulates that “The States Parties shall meet regularly in a Conference of States Parties (COSP) in order to consider any matter with regard to the implementation of the present Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).” Accreditation for new NGOs and Registration will begin in March 2017.
13 to 15 June, UN Headquarters, New York, NY

High-Level Political Forum (HLPF)
The theme of this year’s HLPF will be Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world. The set of goals to be reviewed in depth include Goal 17, which strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.
10 to 19 July, UN Headquarters, New York, NY

3rd International Conference of the World Federation of the Deaf
The conference will elaborate different themes on the occasion of plenary, section and board meetings: bilingual education, sign language in the families, deaf employees at employment market, communication without barriers, new IT revolution, and participation in the decision-making process.
8 to 10 November, Budapest, Hungary

International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Since 1992, the annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
3 December, UN Headquarters, New York, NY

Stay tuned to this space for more events as the come up!

The Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya (APDK) recently made headlines with a micro-finance program to help the close to 80 percent of all disabled persons in Africa who are unemployed. 
MEMBER PROFILE: Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya
Fair trade shops. Children’s clinics. Daycare. And the distribution of rehabilitation products, such as crutches, orthopedic aids and wheelchairs. These are just several ways the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya (APDK) helps persons with disability “overcome their physical limitations and enjoy equal rights.”

The World Health Organization’s 2009 report found that out of approximately 36 million people, there may be some three million disabled people. As in most developing countries in the world, many disabled people in Kenya live in poverty – close to 80 percent of all disabled persons in Africa are unemployed. APDK recently made headlines with a micro-finance program for persons with disabilities run by Jemimah Kutata, who walks with the assistance of two crutches and a brace on her right leg.

“Those days, as a person with disabilities, it would take you years to get a promotion. You are seen as a sick person, you are on your table, you cannot be in the position of a manager,” Kutata told Deutsche Welle on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. “In Africa, going to school is a dream for most people with disabilities. Boys are given the first priority. When you are a woman with a disability, it is a double tragedy.”

The APDK was established in 1958 to enable persons with a disability to overcome their physical limitations and empower them to become self-reliant and fully integrated members of their communities. In its more than 50 years, APDK has worked closely with the Kenya Ministry of Health; its branches are mostly located in the government’s provincial hospitals. But it does far more than the government. In addition to creating awareness on the causes, prevention and management of various disabilities, the NGO promotes quality rehabilitation services through medical and social rehabilitation, as well as economic empowerment. APDK also forms of grassroots groups of PwDs to increase their participation among their own communities, thus overcoming prejudices toward disabled persons.

“I’m so happy about (the program),” Kutata said. “Many participants can now put food on their tables. But I feel that more needs to be done for people with disabilities to really realize their rights and their dreams.”

Wheelchairs of Hope has produced a lightweight wheelchair that can not only withstand harsh conditions, but also able to handle off-road conditions, requires zero maintenance and is simple to assemble. Cost = $100.


UN expert calls for concerted action to guarantee rights for PwDs 
A United Nations human rights expert issued a mid-December warning that some of the most basic components of the CRPD have yet to be realized and that urgent steps are necessary to level inequalities. According to Cataline Devandas Aguilar, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, overall progress is “only peripheral,” and swift action is necessary to guarantee full rights.

“Thanks to the Convention, every (disabled person) can claim rights that relate to every single area of their lives. It is now vital to ensure that this translates into significant improvements and tangible changes in their lives,” the Special Rapporteur said in a news release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). “Many States have declared their desire to protect persons with disabilities through public policies and social protection systems.

“But all too often, these same systems promote exclusion and limited participation – for example, by institutionalization or social benefits that discourage people joining the open labour market.” While Devandas Aguilar hailed the progress of some States who have implemented new laws, policies, and programmes that place disability issues at the heart of international progress, she lamented that others that did not follow advanced model of human rights and disabilities set forth in the Convention.

On the same day as Devandas Aguilar’s speech, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) invited civil society organizations, including organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) to attend the 2017 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction The invitation from the UN Special Representative for Disaster Reduction to civil society can be downloaded at http://unisdr.org/go/gp2017/invitation-civilsociety

Hundred Dollar Wheelchair Brings Hope to Children with Disabilities
Millions of children with disabilities lack minimal mobility due to a shortfall of 20 million chairs in the developing world, but an Israeli plastics innovator has begun to tackle this problem by manufacturing affordable wheelchairs.

Pablo Kaplan, an Israeli manufacturer of plastic household and garden products, set up the Wheelchairs of Hope project to produce wheelchairs for children with disabilities in poor countries. Kaplan and a friend and colleague, Dr. Amir Ziv Av, have produced a chair that can not only withstand harsh conditions, but is lightweight — 10 kilograms (22 pounds) as opposed to the standard 15 kilograms —able to handle off-road conditions, requires zero maintenance and is simple to assemble. More importantly, the chair costs just $100.

After three years working on the project, the first shipment of 250 wheelchairs for children in institutions in Israel and the Palestinian Authority was sent last month, with a batch for residents of the refugee camps in Syria soon to follow. For more information, visit

Training to Improve Access to Air Travel for Persons with Disabilities
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released a series of new disability-related training materials for airlines and passengers with disabilities on the four areas where the Department receives the greatest number of air travel disability complaints.

The new DOT training materials target the four areas for which the Department receives the greatest number of complaints – (1) wheelchair and guide assistance; (2) stowage, loss, delay, and damage of wheelchairs and other mobility assistive devices; (3) aircraft seating accommodations; and (4) travel with service animals.  They are intended to be an additional resource that airlines can use to supplement the disability-related trainings that they are required to provide their employees and contractors under DOT rules. “We must ensure that Americans of all ages and abilities can access our nation’s transportation system,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “Today’s actions recognize the critical importance of training in providing accessible transportation and reinforce our commitment to full implementation of the Air Carrier Access Act.”

The content available today includes two videos, downloadable brochures that can be printed or viewed on a mobile device, and a foldable accordion wheelchair/guided assistance tip sheet that airline personnel can carry and reference while assisting passengers with disabilities. These resources are available on DOT’s website at

The Zero Project Conference 2017 returns, once again, to the issue of employment, but expands it to include  vocational education & training. The three-day-programme will start 22 February and ends 24 February.


2017 Hong Kong Conference of Workability International and Workability Asia
The Hong Kong Joint Council for People with Disabilities and Hong Kong Council of Social Service will host the 2017 Hong Kong Conference of Workability International (WI) and Workability Asia (WAsia) from 12 to 14 June 2017. It is currently inviting organizations to attend the Conference and submit abstracts for this important event. For the programme rundown, abstract guideline and the 1st Announcement of the Conference for your reference, see http://www.2017wasia-wiconference.org.hk/.
Submission should be sent via email 2017hkconference@hkcss.org.hk on or before 10 March 2017.

Artwork submissions for CSW61
UN Women is gearing up for the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women in 2017! Thousands of representatives from governments, NGOs and women’s organizations worldwide gather to advance human rights for women. They are currently looking for artwork to incorporate the CSW61 theme: “Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.” Submission Guidelines: UN Women prefers Adobe Illustrator: version CC or lower (not lower than CS3), one-color and multi-color artwork, saved as .ai, .eps or .pdf. Not Accepted: Microsoft native forms, including Microsoft Word (and other text-editing programs) and PowerPoint. Send submissions to: contest@ngocsw.org Deadline: Monday, 16 January 2017

ZeroProject Conference: Employment, Work, Vocational Education and Training
The Zero Project Conference 2017 marks the start of the second round of its four-year cycle of research topics. It returns, once again, to the issue of employment, but expands it to include both work and, more specifically, vocational education & training. Representatives of Innovative Practices and Policies are invited to present, discuss and inspire, jointly with world leaders from all sectors of society, with and without disabilities. Keynote speakers will include high level representatives from International Organizations, leading managers from multinational companies, representatives from leading NGOs, self-representatives, entrepreneurs, and many more. The three-day-programme will start 22 February and ends 24 February and consists of plenary and workshop sessions, an exhibition and the Award Ceremony. For more information, please visit www.zeroproject.org. The Conference Committee can be reached at office@zeroproject.org.

Conference “The Right to Work for Persons with Disabilities, International Perspectives”
For more than 10 years, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has overseen disability inclusion across the world. How is the human right to work in the sense of the Convention? How “open, inclusive and accessible” is the work environment for people with disabilities? From 8 to 10 March 2017, experts from Germany and abroad will discuss the implementation of inclusion in working life. The international view is intended to raise awareness of the right to work disabled people as human rights and to provide ideas for implementation. Registration for the Conference “The Right to Work for Persons with Disabilities – International Perspectives” in Kassel, Germany is open now with the the registration form available at  www.the-right-to-work.com.

Nominations for the 2017 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize
The Prize, which consists of a sum of €60 000, a trophy and a diploma, rewards outstanding civil society action in the defence of human rights in Europe and beyond. It is open to nominations from any individual, NGO or institution working to defend human rights. The deadline for nominations for the 2017 edition of the Prize is 30 April 2017. The Award Ceremony will take place in the Assembly Chamber on 9 October 2017 during the 2017 Fourth part-session. Prize regulations and the nomination forms can be found on the Assembly’s website. Should you require further information, you can reach the Secretariat of the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize by emailhrprize.pace@coe.int or by phone + 33 3 90 21 45 20.

EASPD Employment for All award 
EASPD and the European Union of Supported Employment (EUSE) believe that all efforts in creating an effective system of employment of people with disabilities contributes to the change of social reality. If you believe your social services/support provider or your business contributes to the efforts of the European institutions for inclusion of PwDs, submit an application to EASPD and EUSE for the Employment for All Award. Download the form from the website and send it to tsvetelina.ivanova@easpd.eu before 31 January 2017. The Awards will be presented at the World Conference on Employment for All – a Global Perspective, taking place in Belfast from 15-16 June 2017. For more information, see the website.

In Memoriam:
It has been announced with great sorrow that Ghazala Hameed, the Deputy Vice President of Rehabilitation Internation for the Asia Pacific Region, an International Ambassador for the Bone and Joint Decade 2010 – 2020 and the Senior Vice-President for Pakistan Society for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled passed away in London on 13 January, 2017. Mrs. Hameed, the wife of Sheikh Amar Hameed, spent her formative years in Lahore and was a committed social worker, serving the Pakistan Society for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled in various roles for almost three decades. RI Global President Haidi Zhang and the worldwide family of Rehabilitation International conveyed deep condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of Mrs. Hameed. The funeral will be held in Lahore on Thursday (19 January).