RI Global What’s On: July 2017 Promoting Prosperity for the Differently Abled

RI Global What’s On, July 2017
Promoting Prosperity for the Differently Abled
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RI Global President Zhang Haidi, pictured here at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games is bidding to become the third president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC)

July 2017: CoSP 10 – Promoting Prosperity for the Differently Abled 

RI Global President Zhang Haidi bids for top job at the IPC
RI Global President Zhang Haidi is now one of the four candidates running for the Presidency of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and could be the first women, as well as the first Chinese, IPC president in the organization’s history.

In the race to replace outgoing IPC President Sir Philip Craven, Zhang, who is the Executive President of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics Organising Committee is competing against Patrick Jarvis of Canada, Andrew Parsons of Brazil, and John Petersson of Denmark. The election of a new IPC president will be held on 6 September. “I am a woman with an impairment. I therefore share the hope, fear and pain of my fellow men and women living with this condition,” Zhang said in her manifesto to the IPC.

Among other things, Zhang promised to deliver eye-catching, successful, athlete-centered Paralympic Games: from Pyeongchang 2018 through Tokyo 2020 to Beijing 2022. She also pledged to expand the scope of Paralympic sports, extend the reach of the Paralympic Movement, champion optimal training and competition conditions for athletes, and strengthen scientific research and technical support for the Paralympic Games, including effective doping control. “I will put special emphasis on the equal participation of female athletes with an impairment, as well as endeavour to encourage young people to see the Paralympic movement as an opportunity and an ideal,” Zhang continued.

Sir Philip Craven has served as the second president of the IPC since 2001. Craven, who was appointed an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member to represent the IPC in 2003, capitalised on a new constitutional structure introduced in 2005 which has led him to carry out three four-year terms, instead of two. He is an accomplished five-time Paralympian in wheelchair basketball (1972 to 1988) and swimming (1972).

RI SG General Venus Ilagan attended the Convening of Advocates for the Rights of Women and Girls with Disabilities in Costa Rica, where she learned to make use of available UN human rights mechanisms to ensure women with disabilities who experience abuse or neglect receive redress.
RI GLOBAL: Around the World
SG Venus Illagan represents RI Global at disabled women’s convention
The UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) came to an end on Wednesday 19 July, with the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration addressing the multiple forms of discrimination faced by women and girls, but for RI Secretary General Venus Ilagan the discussion continued in Costa Rica. Ilagan, attending the Convening of Advocates for the Rights of Women and Girls with Disabilities held from 18-22 July 2017 in San Jose, were provided the opportunity to learn how to make use of available UN human rights mechanisms in ensuring women with disabilities who experience abuse or neglect receive redress. The Convention also sought to make sure that statements, recommendations, observations and guidance from the UN incorporate an intersectional gender and disability perspective. “Women with disabilities across the globe continue to experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination that impedes the full realization of their human rights,” Ilagan said. “We need to continue to empower women with disabilities and organizations working in their behalf.”

High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) The theme of this year’s HLPF was Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world. The set of goals reviewed in depth included Goal 17, which strengthens the means of implementation and revitalizes the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development. “Solidarity and working together is more important than ever,” said Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava, the President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). He noted that more than 767 million people lived in extreme poverty, according to 2013 figures cited by the UN. “Multilateralism is based on the recognition that we cannot overcome these – and other – global challenges in isolation,” Mr. Shava underscored. “Collective support for the poor and most vulnerable is in the interest of all of us.”

The newest members of the Executive Committee, pictured at the RI World Congress in November, putting together several events this year, including those at the CoSP10.

Left to Right : Nick Carey, Deputy Chair, Policy & Services Commission (UK); Roy O’Shaughnessey, VP Europe (UK); Silke Bruggemann, Deputy Chair Health & Function Commission (Germany); Dr. Hiroshi Kawamura, Chair, ICTA Commission (Japan); Jan Sau Johansen, Chair, Leisure, Recreation and Physical Activity Commission (Sweden); Susan Parker, Treasurer (USA); Mandan Kundu, Deputy Chair, Work and Employment Commission (USA), Pauliina Lampinen, Chair, Policy and Services Commission (Finland), Jan Monsbakken, Past President (Norway), Yueqin Huang, Chair, Health & Function Committee (China), Demelash Bekele, Deputy VP Africa (Ethiopia); and Mathieu Simard, Deputy Vice President, North American Region (Canada).

Seated: Ye-Ja Lee, VP Asia-Pacific (South Korea); Venus Ilagen, RI Secretary General.

Not pictured but in attendance: Khaled El Mohtar, Chair, Social Commission (Lebanon); Tone Mork, Chair, Education Commission (Norway); Michael Brogioli, Vice President, North America (USA); Mark Webber, VP Africa (South Africa);  Hashem Taqi, VP MENA (Kuwait); Francois Perl, Deputy VP Europe (Belgium); Nick Caboy, Deputy Chair, Policy and Services Commission (UK); Joseph Kwok, Deputy Chair, Social Commission (South Korea); Friedrich Myerhoff, Chair, Work and Employment Commission (Germany). 

RI GLOBAL: On the Agenda
RI Finland hosts seminar on inclusive life policies 
As hosts of the next RI Europe meeting, the RI Finland will present – in collaboration with Kela, the Finnish Social Security Institution – a half-day seminar in Helsinki on rehabilitation and inclusive working life policies. Taking place in Helsinki on 20 September, the event will kick off with an overview of the Rehabilitation International Finnish Committee, and include, among other agenda items, a presentation on Horizon 2020 – Research and innovation across the EU, and a discussion by RI Europe President Roy O’Shaughnessey on People with disabilities as customers and employees. To further the advocacy, RI Europe will have the option for an online-broadcast to enable all RI network members to benefit from the talks and presentations. The event takes place at the Social Insurance Institutions Head Office, Nordenskiöldinkatu 12, Helsinki, Finland on 20 September. Registration for the the RI Finland Seminar opens on 3 August. See the RI Finland website.

RI Australia invites members to forum on housing 
Rights & Inclusion Australia invites all RI Global members to participate in its 2017 Forum on equitable and accessible housing for the disabled. In April 2017 the Building Minister Forum of Australia agreed to propose to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) – the main legislative organization of Australia – that a national Regulatory Impact Assessment be undertaken as soon as possible to consider applying a minimum accessibility standard for private dwellings in Australia. The forum will provide an update on significant progress towards more equitable and accessible housing in Australia. It takes place at the Sydney Olympic Stadium in Sydney, Australia, on 15 August. Registrations close Friday 28 July. Registration fee $100 payable to St George Bank or PayPal available. For more information, see the RI Australia website or email reply@riaustralia.org.

Call for RI’s 2017 General Assembly 
The 2017 Annual General Assembly of Rehabilitation International is scheduled for November with a focus on Africa. The Organizing Committee is still finalizing logistical arrangements for the meetings in Addis Ababa, from 10-15 November, but it has on the agenda field visits to rehabilitation centers and programs, workshops on the African Region, the meetings of the Commissions and RI Foundation and, of course, the 2017 Annual General Assembly. More information will be circulated to RI members in upcoming newsletters and on the website. Those who have not yet paid their 2017 dues, the RI Constitution states that dues have to be paid no less than three months from the date of a GA so members can be in good standing and will be able to exercise their right to vote in the general assembly. The Executive Committee looks forward to seeing you all soon in Addis.

“The one exception (for the CRPD in Australia) is housing,” says Michael Fox of RI Australia. “It  is our current priority to include mainstream accessible housing requirements in Australia – it is an essential part of the ‘process of access’.”

Rights and Inclusion Australia
In 2009, the National Dialogue on Universal Housing Design (National Dialogue) agreed to a national guideline and a strategic plan with the aspirational goal that “all new homes will be of an agreed Universal Housing Design standard by 2020.” This agreement, endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), was a breakthrough for the disabled in Australia, as well as its chief advocate, Rights & Inclusion Australia, an affiliate of RI Global. Since that time, however, the housing industry in Australia has not effectively responded to the National Dialogue agreement and even in limited cases, there has been inconsistency across Australia in the standards of accessibility in housing.

To solve the problem, in stepped Michael Fox, architect and president ofRights & Inclusion Australia, an Associate Member Organisation (AMO) of RI global. Rights & Inclusion Australia focuses on rural, Indigenous and remote Australian communities through programs relating to information exchange, capacity building and effective transition from education to employment and social inclusion for disabled persons. Of late, housing has become its latest issue for equality. The group, which also includes renown architect Joseph Kwan from Hong Kong, had a small victory last December, when the Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF) met in Perth and agreed to have further discussions on the costs and benefits of applying a minimum accessibility standard for private dwellings in Australia. “The National Disability Strategy, a clear response to CRPD obligations, provides comprehensive requirements for accessibility,” Fox says. “The one exception is housing, and it  is our current priority to include mainstream accessible housing requirements in Australian building legislation – it is an essential part of the ‘process of access’.”


UNICEF develops measurement for child functioning making schools accessible
UNICEF has been working with the Washington Group on Disability Statistics to develop the Module on Child Functioning, a way of collecting data on children with disabilities that is devoid of labels and diagnoses. The module will be implemented in more than 35 low-and middle-income countries over the next three years. Meanwhile, UNICEF India has developed a guidebook: Making Schools Accessible to Children with Disabilities as part of the Prime Minister’s Accessible India Campaign. Aimed at school administrators, school management committees and parents, the guidebook details the common infrastructural barriers children with disabilities may face within schools and offers possible solutions to address these barriers.
New E-Commerce site increasing independence for PwDs 
Faced with the reality that traditional nonprofit fundraising models are no longer sustainable, the Exceptional Children’s Foundation (ECF) in California set a bold goal: create new revenue streams. So ECF developed www.EOJSolutions.com, an  e-commerce social enterprise that sells discount office and janitorial supplies, with all profits benefiting children and adults with disabilities. Through the website, customers can choose from over 100,000 name brand products for up to 40 percent below retail with profits supporting people with disabilities provided by ECF in Los Angeles and over 1,200 nonprofits across the county. Patrons can also purchase SKILCRAFT products at 60 percent below other brands and give a job to someone with a physical or intellectual disabilities across the US. “We are excited to… allowing our customers to save money and contribute to the development of an inclusive workforce throughout the country,” said Scott Bowling, President and CEO of ECF.

Microsoft releases seeing eye app 
Microsoft has released a new Seeing AI app for iPhone that uses artificial intelligence to describe the world for people who are blind or have low vision. With the app downloaded, subscribers just point their phone’s camera at a person or a product and the phone will identify the object and offer details, such as interpreting emotions or other important information. The app was developed by Saqib Shaikh, a software engineer for Microsoft that has been blind since he was seven. In hopes of improving the lives of people with vision disabilities, Shaikh developed Seeing AI. The app joins a small group of apps designed to help the people with vision disabilities, although before now, these apps have been aimed at a single task, such as identifying a color or reading text aloud. SeeingAI is available to download in six countries, including the United States, Canada, India, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Singapore.
Considered one of the most ‘diverse gatherings’ in the world, the 33nd Annual Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity will be held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki Beach Resort & the Modern Honolulum 9-11 October.


State of Sao Paulo Recognizing Best Foreign Company in Inclusion Award
The State Secretariat for the Rights of the Person with Disability (SEDPcD) of the São Paulo State Government is adding to its “Best Companies Award for Employees with Disability 2017”, a new category: Foreign Companies. The ceremony of the winners’ companies will take place in the first fortnight of December 2017, in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. Created by this State Secretariat in 2014, this award grants praise and public recognition to public and private sectors companies that have adopted and implemented a policy of incorporating Persons with Disabilities (PwD) among its employees. For further information on the award, please see thewebsite. Application materials must be completed by 31 August.

Annual Pacific Rim International Conference
Considered one of the most ‘diverse gatherings’ in the world, the Pacific Rim International Conference, encourages and respects voices from “diverse” perspective across numerous areas, including: voices from persons representing all disability areas; stories of persons providing powerful lessons; and action plans to meet human and social needs in a globalized world. The 33nd Annual Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity will be held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki Beach Resort & the Modern Honolulum 9-11 October. The Call for Proposals is now open.

G3ict & IAAP launch Web Accessibility Specialist certification
The International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP), a division of G3ict, recently launched a first of its kind international certification program for Web Accessibility Specialists. This Technical-level exam is the ideal credential for those who personally design, develop, implement, evaluate, or manage the technical details of accessible web solutions, aiming to address the growing demand for web accessibility professionals as more and more countries ratify the CRPD and adopt standards like WCAG 2.0. For more information on the learning, contact the IAAP.

Promoting blind awareness on World Sight Day
Project BlindWalk is an experience for sighted persons to experience what it means to be blind. Led by blind persons themselves in a public space, participants get a first-hand experience of blindness, in the hopes that sighted persons to better understand blindness and blind persons. Project BlindWalk also seeks pledges for the sighted to pledge to donate their eyes and become a Vision Ambassador. BlindWalk takes place on World Sight Day, 12 October. See the website.

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