RI Global What’s On: September 2017 Striving for peace and a decent life for all on a Sustainable Planet

RI Global What’s On, September 2017
Striving for peace and a decent life for all on a Sustainable Planet
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With the overarching theme of Focusing on People and Prosperity, the UN GA President wants political momentum for the SDGs, especially for the disabled. 

September 2017: Striving for Peace and a decent life for all on a Sustainable Planet 

Fall at RI Global HQ: the UN GA
The annual General Assembly session is the key event at the United Nations every year – the months when all 193 Member States gather. The 72nd Regular Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 72) convened at UN Headquarters on 12 September under President Miroslav Lajčák. With the overarching theme of Focusing on People, he identified the following six priorities for his tenure: making a difference in the lives of ordinary people; prevention and mediation for sustaining peace; migration; political momentum for the SDGs and climate; human rights and equality, including genders; and quality of events organized by the Presidency.On the disability front, the GA will be taking up the Report of the Secretary-General, the Situation of women and girls with disabilities and the Status of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto or GA70/145. The resolution directed special Rapporteurs from four agencies – UN OHCHR, UNICEF and UN-Women – to provide an overview of the situation of women and girls with disabilities, as well as the ongoing efforts made by stakeholders to advance their status. The report found that while many Member States have developed national strategies and plans on disability the CRPD, stand-alone policies on women and girls with disabilities remained limited. Major challenges included data collection, national capacity and the mobilization of financial resources in specifically promoting the rights of women and girls with disabilities. The Report should be presented in the GA hall sometime in the next month.

RI’s 2017 GA, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
During the UN’s three-month deliberations, Rehabilitation International will convene its Annual General Assembly on 13 November at at the UN Conference Center for Africa, Menelik II Ave, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The GA this year will focus on Africa with field visits to local rehabilitation centers, workshops on the African Region and of course, the yearly evaluation of the Commissions and RI Foundation, as well as planning sessions for the future. The  schedule of meetings in November is as follows:

11-12 November: EC Meeting/Commission & RIF Meetings 
13 November: 2017 RI Annual General Assembly
14 November: RI Regional Conference for Africa

 Andrew Parsons of Brazil has been elected President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and will replace outgoing president Sir Philip Craven. 
RI GLOBAL: Around the World
Parsons to Succeed Craven as President of the IPC
Andrew Parsons was confirmed as the successor to Sir Philip Craven as President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) after he claimed an opening-round victory at the governing body’s General Assembly in Abu Dhabi on 8 September. RI Global President Zhang Haidi from China finished second with 47 votes, followed by Denmark’s John Petersson with 19 and Canada’s Patrick Jarvis with 12. Parsons was President of the Brazilian Paralympic Committee during the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and served as IPC vice-president for four years. He succeeds Craven, a five-time Paralympic wheelchair basketball player, who took the IPC from a little-known organization to one of the world’s major sports bodies. “I have very big shoes to fill but I think I learned a lot from (Craven) and I will try to pay tribute to him by following in his footsteps,” Parsons said.
USICD lobbies for Disability Representation at State Dept.
In late August, disability rights organizations in the U.S. received word that the U.S. State Department would either shutter or downgrade certain functional offices and Senate-confirmed ambassadorships within the Department, including the Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the Department of State.

As a part of the U.S. International Council on Disabilities’ (USICD) Disability in Public Policy (DIPP) project, the group has engaged four key Members of the House and staff representatives for six Senators to introduce them to disabled person’s policy priorities. The group also sent two letters to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asking him to make the Special Advisor a permanent entity within the Department. Just recently, Senator Ben Cardin successfully included language in the State Authorities Act, Fiscal Year 2018 that will establish an Office of International Disability Rights. USICD fully supports the inclusion of this language and will reach out to our USICD members and networks shortly to ask for their action in contacting members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and others.

RI Global Secretariat hosts rehabilitation trainee
Akiko Ito, Chief of the UN Secretariat for the CRPD, in August invited RI to host a trainee, Haruka Murasaki from the Sophia University in Japan, for a three-week training to learn how the organization works with the UN to advocate for rehabilitation and disability. Under the RI-UN DESA joint initiative, Murasaki spent nine full days with RI and six days with UN DESA.

While in New York, Murasaki conducted extensive research work on leaders in global disability who have contributed significantly in advancing disability rights at different levels, including RI President Zhang Haidi.  These leaders will be featured in a publication scheduled for release in December as part of the celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. “The project brings to the forefront the ‘real voices’ of global leaders who have led the disability movement at all levels,” Ito said.

“As there are new efforts in Japan and worldwide by young people not only to engage in the discussion of the SDGs, but also to lead to their implementation, we look forward to continuing our collaboration.”

The World Federation of the Deaf will hold its 3rd International Conference in Budapest in November.
RI GLOBAL: Upcoming UN Events
3rd International Conference of the World Federation of the Deaf
Convened to 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.
8-10 November, Budapest, Hungary23rd Conference of Asian Federation on Intellectual Disabilities (AFID) 
Organized to pursue the well-bring of people with disabilities in Asia by exchanging information and strengthening networks base of the Asian people with intellectual disabilities. During a time of larger nation-wide and global change through ACID, the 23rd AFID Conference aspires to grow and adapt, remaining always motivated, responsive and open to innovative ideas
18-24 November, Dhaka Bangladesh 

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

Casual Day is a key initiative to raise money for the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in South Africa (NCPPDSA), which enforces South Africa’s protections for people with disabilities.
The National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in South Africa (NCPPDSA)
Of the 2.1 million children in South Africa living with disabilities, a significant number face abuse of every kind. But according to Therina Wentzel, National Director of the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in South Africa (NCPPDSA), even though the South African Constitution protects people with disabilities, the difference between the children who continue to suffer and a child who is helped boils down to implementation of the Constitution. More often than not, disabled people’s rights hit a dead end because they lack the tools to exercise them.Among their other pledges, Wentzel and NCPPDSA aim to overcome these hurdles – whether with technology as simple as a computer programme, training a home-health aid or advocacy, like brochure distriution. Besides helping disabled children, NCPPDSA aims to provide a springboard to universal design and accessibility, consults with the government’s Integrated National Disability Strategy (INDS) document to help South Africa comply with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and raises money for disability programs through efforts such as Casual Day, in which businesses allow casual dress in exchange for a donation to disability organizations. “South Africa now also have disability policies that reflect concepts of disability based on the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities,” Wentzel said. “The reality is that meeting the needs of people with disability is still largely seen as a welfare issue and even basic good practice in meeting those needs is rarely recognized, let alone implemented.


U.S. Open wheelchair finals

While most eyes were on the men’s and women’s singles at the US Open last week, World No. 1 Yui Kamiji earned her third Grand Slam title of the season by winning the women’s singles final at the U.S. Open wheelchair championships on 10 September. The top-seeded Japanese beat the second-seeded Diede de Groot of the Netherlands 7-5, 6-2 in the 1-hour, 11-minute match at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to be crowned U.S. Open champion for the second time following her victory in 2014. The 23-year-old Kamiji, who made a semifinal exit from Wimbledon in July, also claimed the singles titles at the Australian Open in January and French Open in June – one tournament away from a calendar Grand Slam. Meanwhile, Britain’s Alfie Hewett was beaten 6-2 4-6 6-3 by France’s Stephane Houdet in the US Open men’s singles final. Hewett had hoped to add the title to the doubles trophy he won, but the 19-year-old, who won his maiden Grand Slam singles title at the French Open this summer, succumbed to fatigue. “These athletes have been through so many difficulties in their lives, but they take it in their stride and work hard every day to be the best in their field. It is really inspiring,” Jason Harnett, USTA national manager of wheelchair tennis, told ESPN.

Accessible water park opens in San Antonio
At Morgan’s Inspiration Island water park in San Antonio, visitors don’t climb wheelchair ramps at any of the main rides, especially the main one: Riverboat adventure. Rather, the boats rise to meet them, so guests with disabilities can avoid the hassles that often come with a visit to an amusement park. The $17 million water park – the world’s first ultra-accessible – features five play areas with pools, geysers, jets, water cannons and other elements as well as a five-minute jungle-themed riverboat ride with twists and turns. The park was created by San Antonio businessman Gordon Hartman, who developed the idea after watching other children at a pool party shun his special needs daughter because of her disability. Morgan’s Inspiration Island will be free for individuals with special needs, just like Morgan’s Wonderland, though Hartman recommended making advance reservations online.
A record year for corporate disability inclusion and leadership
The 2017 Disability Equality Index (DEI), a survey conducted by the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), reported that U.S. businesses are becoming increasingly accessible for people with disabilities. Of all DEI companies, 95 percent report having external recruitment efforts in place that are specifically geared toward hiring individuals with disabilities, and 98 percent of companies have an employee assistance program available to full-time and part-time employees. Of these companies, 90 percent have formal programs in place to understand how to address the needs of the disability community. The Disability Equality Index, originally conceived five years ago, held its first pilot survey in 2013-2014 with 48 corporations taking part. In the following two years, the number of companies participating nearly doubled – this year, the 2017 DEI welcomes a historic 110 corporations to our benchmark. Download the Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion.

The Enable Makeathon 2 is an intensive 60-day programme running from December 2017 to February 2018, through which participants receive guidance and insight from persons with disabilities, design, fabrication /prototyping expertise, business advice and connections to investors, and exposure.


RI Europe holds seminar on Inclusive Working Life
Rehabilitation International will proudly host a RI Europe seminar and networking event on Rehabilitation and Inclusive Working Life Policies, targeted at experts in the field of rehabilitation. Joining the experts is RI Europe’s president Roy O’Shaughnessy, who will lead a work shop targeted for firms and companies interested in corporate social responsibility. Sponsored by FIBS, the Finnish network of corporate social responsibility, O’Shaughnessy, the CEO of Shaw Trust, a non-profit that assists the disabled with employment and education in the UK will speak on Payment by Results: does it deliver job outcomes for disabledSocial Insurance Institution Main Office, Nordenskiöldinkatu 12, Helsinki, Finland, 20 September, 12pm. To register for the event or for further information, please contact: jaakko.harkko@kuntoutussaatio.fi or watch the seminar online at

Global ICT challenge for youth with disabilities (GITC)
The Global ICT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities (GITC) is a capacity-building project that helps youth with disabilities to overcome their limitations by providing them with access to information and communications technologies (ICT). The Challenge, sponsored by the Ministry of Health and Welfare of the Republic of Korea, Rehabilitation International Korea (RI KOREA) and LG Electronics, teaches and tests youth with disabilities on various technological competencies over a week, at the same time setting ICT agendas for participant countries regarding Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). At the event in China last year RI President Zhang Haidi participated and this year, China will send another delegation to the event that hosts 265 people from 16 nations. Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities 2017, Hanoi, Vietnam, 18-22 September, for more information, see website.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. Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki Beach Resort & the Modern Honolulum 9-11 October.

Congress of the on Council of Europe 
The Congress of the Council of Europe (NGOs and International organizations) will hold its 33rd session in Strasbourg with a global theme of “Decentralised policies for the successful integration of migrants”. Highlights will include debates on the reception of refugee children, young people and open government in the fight against corruption, regional and minority languages in Europe today and a better future for Europe’s rural areas. In addition, reports on local and regional democracy in Switzerland, Italy and Serbia will be examined and debated. All RI Global members are invited to attend. Hemicycle of the Palais de l’Europe, Strasbourg, 18-20 October, see website for registration details.

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.

Call for applications to the 2017-2018 Enable Makeathon2
The International Committee of the Red Cross and its partners including the Global Disability Innovation Hub, invite persons with disabilities, engineers, designers, manufacturers, investors, entrepreneurs and humanitarians to join the Enable Makeathon 2 movement to develop appropriate solutions for challenges of Accessibility and Employability faced by persons with disabilities. The EM2 is an intensive 60-day programme running from December 2017 to February 2018, through which participants receive guidance and insight from persons with disabilities, design, fabrication /prototyping expertise, business advice and connections to investors, and exposure. To apply or seek more information, please visit the EM2website and refer to the official call for application here

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