USICD Statement on 2011 International Day of Persons with Disabilities

December 2, 2011

On the Occasion of the 2011 International Day
of Persons with Disabilities

The members, staff, and board of directors of the United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD) join the global community in celebrating December 3, 2011 as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.  This year’s theme for December 3 is “Together for a Better World for All: Including Persons with Disabilities in Development.”  The leadership of USICD supports this theme and believes that international development agencies and organizations must be inclusive of people with disabilities when determining policy and allocating project resources. 

Today, there are an estimated one billion people globally with disabilities—about 15% of the world’s population.  80% of people with disabilities in the world today live in developing countries.  The World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank’s recent World Report on Disability highlights these findings, and the report asserts that people with disabilities are less likely to have access to education, health care services, employment, transportation services, and information. 

Addressing these disparities requires international cooperation.  National aid agencies such as USAID, as well as international donors, have made significant strides in incorporating disability on a policy level.  But these World Report figures indicate that work remains before people with disabilities can fully benefit from aid organizations’ initiatives.  USICD joins with the world disability community in solidarity for the advancement of development inclusion and human rights protections, under the international slogan, “Nothing About Us Without Us.” 

Organizations led by and consisting of people with disabilities are some of the strongest voices in the push for disability inclusion.  The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), a treaty which the United States has signed and may soon consider ratifying, calls upon States Parties to promote the participation of disability civil society in local, national and international venues.  As a non-governmental, constituent-led, membership organization, USICD is a leading voice in support of U.S. ratification of the CRPD.  USICD’s membership envisions a world where the equal rights of persons with disabilities are protected and advanced, where the capacities and talents of persons with disabilities are celebrated and elevated, and where people with disabilities come together across borders as a global disability community.

As we look ahead into the next year, we encourage development actors to build stronger connections to real disability experts—people with disabilities themselves.  Disabled people’s organizations and other allies can help expand disability inclusion, participation, and leadership in the development sector.  Development initiatives must listen to the voices of the 1 billion global citizens with disabilities in order to build a just and inclusive world.

The USICD Board of Directors

Marca Bristo, President


For more information, please contact David Morrissey, Executive Director, (202) 347-0102