What We Do
Who is USICD?
The U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD) is a non-profit, membership, constituent-led organization committed to building bridges between American and international disability communities and cultures. Through a wide range of projects and programs, USICD promotes the inclusion of disability perspectives in U.S. foreign policy and aid and provides opportunities for domestic disability rights organizations to interface with their international counterparts. USICD’s major initiatives leverage a membership that spans organizations and individuals in more than 30 U.S. states and a number of foreign countries. USICD's Board of Directors includes leading experts in domestic and international disability issues.
CRPD Education and Advocacy
In our Education and Activities activities, USICD is guided by a commitment to the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by people with disabilities. We strive for the full inclusion and empowerment of people with disabilities and our allies to have a voice of our own. In so doing, they will become effective and informed human rights advocates. A better understanding of what the CRPD means and how it and other human rights standards are relevant to the everyday lives of people with disabilities is essential to achieve this.
RightsNow! Project for Disability Rights Implementation and Enforcement
The RightsNow! project is administered by Mobility International USA (MIUSA) in partnership with three other US-based organizations including USICD, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). Project activities offer technical assistance to Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs), civil society and governments by sharing the U.S. experience on development, implementation and enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other relevant legislation. In addition to providing training in six targeted developing countries, technical assistance has also included developing content for the Global Disability Rights Now! website, which shares knowledge and guidance on implementing and enforcing disability rights.
Consolidated Disability Findings from U.S. State Department Human Rights Reports
Each year, the U.S. Department of State releases country by country reports that document human rights abuses that have occurred around the world. When the most recent annual report has been released, USICD staff, interns, or volunteers help comb through all reports for all countries to find all references to people with disabilities. USICD then consolidates all of these references into a single document for each major region of the world, as well as one document containing all the different regions together.
The State Department typically releases each annual report early in the following year--thus reports covering the year 2015 were released in early 2016, reports covering the year 2016 were released in early 2017 and so on. Depending on availability of intern or volunteer support at USICD, there may be some weeks of delay before USICD can issue its consolidation of disability citations.
Disability in Policy Project
USICD has been conducting a broad review of factors that impact disability inclusion in the international development projects that major bilateral and multilateral agencies fund or coordinate in developing countries. This has included a desk top review of internal policies, strategic plans, and other guidance documents at these agencies to identify those that include at least some mention of disability. USICD has consolidated these policies into a single location in our website.
In addition to its desktop review, USICD also has been conducting interviews at selected agencies to learn how these guidance documents impact disability inclusion in the projects they fund or coordiante abroad.
In a closely inter-related study, USICD has reviewed reports submitted by countries ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to assess how many of these discuss disability inclusion in projects funded or coordinated by bilateral and multilateral international development agencies. USICD also has reviewed shadow reports on the CRPD (also known as "alternative reports") by non-governmental organizations to make a similar assessment.
USICD is writing white papers based on its findings to be released in 2018.
Global Disability Rights Library
The Global Disability Rights Library project helps improve the lives of people with disabilities in developing countries by delivering digital knowledge on disability rights to advocates, policymakers, and civil society institutions. The project is a collaborative effort between USICD and the University of Iowa’s WiderNet Project that has collected an extensive digital repository with thousands of toolkits, best practice materials, national and regional disability legislation, video, audio and other advocacy tools. This collection is delivered to DPOs in developing countries lacking adequate internet access via an eGranary device—a 2-TeraByte portable hard drive that brings web-like access without an internet connection.
Youth in International Development and Affairs
USICD is proud of the leadership role that the U.S. has played in the international disability rights movement. Leaders like Marca Bristo and Judy Heumann have let the world by example and by guiding foreign policy in long and lusterous careers that began in their youth. To continue the movement and America's role as a leader, USICD strives to develop the next generation of leaders.
Disability Inclusion in U.S. Foreign Affairs
USICD is committed to disability inclusion in all areas of United States foreign affairs. As part of that effort, USICD has consolidated the information the U.S. State Department’s annual Human Rights Reports to highlight disability references. Disability references from all 194 Human Rights Reports are collated into a comprehensive overview on our website.