USICD Leads InterAction Discussion on International Disability Development

August 12, 2011

As a member organization of InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S. based international NGOs, USICD was excited to participate in the InterAction Forum this month.  Joined by USICD members including Mobility International USA (MIUSA), Perkins International School for the Blind, and Christian Blind Mission (CBM) International, this major gathering allowed development and relief organizations to continue dialogues on advancing the awareness of disability civil society in developing countries.

Four of the Panelists are seated at a table with microphonesUSICD Executive Director David Morrissey, a member of InterAction’s Disability Working Group, moderated a panel at the annual forum entitled “Transforming and Advancing Disability Civil Society through Knowledge Dissemination, Organizational Development, and Legal Mechanisms.” Morrissey led a diverse discussion on disability inclusion in international development, with panelists Chad Vickery of International Foundation on Electoral Systems (IFES), Susan Sygall of MIUSA, Eric Rosenthal of Disability Right International (DRI), and Andrea Shettle from USICD all weighing in. 

Panelists shared their experiences in fostering disability civil society in developing countries and insights on opportunities for other organizations to play a stronger role in strengthening disability awareness, particularly in light of efforts to ratify and implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) around the world.  Chad Vickery discussed strategies applied to successfully integrate a disability focus in IFES’ work, ensuring that fair voting systems are implemented globally.  Andrea Shettle shared how USICD’s Global Disability Rights Library (GDRL) is transforming information sources for people throughout the world who seek best practices information for effective implementation of disability inclusive development.  A compelling presentation by Eric Rosenthal of DRI exemplified the importance of development organizations to focus on community-based supports and independent living programs in light of the vulnerable situation many people living in institutionalized settings face, and the international movement toward closing institutions.  Susan Sygall concluded the session with a discussion of how MIUSA is changing awareness in the global disability landscape, particularly through pioneering international leadership programs both domestically and abroad in over 100 countries.

InterAction and its member community of development actors are moving the international community forward by upholding values of access, inclusion, and equality.  These advancements are exemplified by the work of the annual InterAction Disability Inclusion Awardees.  Through USICD’s membership in InterAction, we will continue to serve as a resource and bridge our members to the development sector.  Thank you to all of our panelists for participating in this very well-received discussion.