The New UN Disability Rights Convention: Building Support in the United States for Ratification and Implementation
Implementation through International Development Policy
Captioner: Natalie C. Ennis, CSR-CA, RPR / CI and CT
Our next panel is on international development policy. As the previous discussion indicated, the work of foreign donors are incredibly impacting well beyond the simple number of dollars or Euros they invest. Small investments can have enormous impact on the structure of service systems. So this panel provides us an opportunity for looking at implementation of the Convention through foreign assistance work.
We'll start off with Judy Heumann. I'm not going to give extensive introductions to anyone because they're in your conference material. But Judy is really one of the founders of the disability movement in the United States since her work with the creation of the independent living center in Berkeley. She has had experience as - I believe it was assistant secretary of education. She's been The World Bank officer of disability and now the head of the Global Partnership for Disability and Development. No one has been more actively involved both from inside the disability movement and now in the international disability movement than Judy.
JUDY HEUMANN: Thank you very much.
What I would like to do is reflect a little bit on what I see is the reality that we have to be addressing when moving forward implementation with an international development policy.
The comments that Laurie and Eric were making with the film that was just shown and the comments people made to them about why these types of institutions needed to be maintained, and comments from Europeans, which could have just as easily been made by Americans or anyone from the development institutions or pick a group, I think is really central to what we have to be focusing on.
When we look at the process that went on in the passage of the U.N. Convention, what do we see? We see that there were very unique opportunities over a relatively short period of time where disabled people from different national, regional, and international organizations and their allies came together to meet with representatives from state governments. And they weren't casual interactions. People didn't come together for a three-hour meeting or a one-day meeting. People came together for weeks at a time. Two weeks. Three weeks. I don't know how many weeks altogether over the four-year period of time, but we're talking about months, where people - not always the same people, but many of the same people reappeared. And I think this is a very important issue, because when the discussions on the Convention began, it wasn't just that people didn't believe it could happen. One of the reasons people believed it couldn't happen is because of the significant lack of knowledge on the part of representatives from governments that disabled people could benefit from a human rights convention like other groups, children, women, et cetera. I believe it's very important to recognize that the discrimination that disabled people have faced in every country in the world, including the United States, has very much put us in a place where people in positions of authority in development institutions and human rights organizations are basically fearful of those of us with disabilities and have very few models that they can really reflect on. And the failure to have positive models that they can reflect on be. Also, the fact that those people in their training programs, on the graduate programs, professional programs, vocational programs, whatever it may be, also do not learn about what disabled people can do. Do not look at the barriers that we face on a day-to-day basis and how it is the barriers that we face that have resulted in our inability to be integrated into society.
Now, we can talk about it and reflect on it in the Convention. We can talk about moving away from the medical model to the social model. That's very true. But the reality of the situation is, very few people in the disability community or in the nondisability community have really been touched by the efforts that have gone on in the passage of this Convention. And I think we need to build on that. And I do very much believe that the ability for the disability community, a very cross disability community, the most cross disability community that ever was actively engaged in any international or national or state or local levels, came together. And so my presumption is that the representatives from governance and hopefully from the U.N. itself who participated in those discussions had to begin to have their viewpoint of what their negative images of disabled people were, and at least had to be willing to open a window in their minds to be willing to listen to some of the very provocative comments and work that was being done by disabled people demanding very, very strategic and significant changes that ultimately need to be made in our societies.
I believe if we gloss over that, we, in fact, will not see the implementation of the efforts that people have made over the last four years. So I want to talk just for a couple of minutes about some of the activities that we can look at in the United States with some of the legislation that we have had passed over the years and what we did to both educate disabled people, because I think this is a critical component here, that disabled people in all countries need to be able to be educated where they are not on what the Convention is and what the steps are that need to be utilized in order to implement it within their country. And from the U.S. perspective, I would like to say that most disabled people in the United States have never heard of the Convention. And if they've heard of the Convention, they've only heard of a U.N. Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. I venture to say that 99.9% of those people, if you ask them to give you one specific objective that the Convention is supposed to implement, not through any fault of their own, but they can't answer that question. So when we talk about the U.S. becoming more engaged, and why is the Convention important to us here in the United States, I think one of the outcomes that we need to look at from today's meeting is some very simple materials that can be written up for disabled individuals, all types of disabilities in the U.S., and parent organizations regarding what is this Convention and does it mean anything to us? The piece that came out, is that the piece we should be abiding by? Is the convention from a U.S. perspective something that we don't have any time for because we have so many problems ourselves? I think many of the previous speakers have talked about why this Convention is important to us in the United States. But we need a very simple article with some very simple questions and answers that can be put across all of the websites that people deal with. And in conferences that we're holding in the U.S., this is an issue that has to be discussed or the U.S. will not be a major player because we don't understand the issues.
I think it's different when we look at other countries. I think Europe and Scandinavia, African countries, Asian countries, and the Middle East, more of their disability rights organizations, but not all of them, are also more engaged and more knowledgeable about this Convention, this part because their countries have a history of engaging in a different way with the United Nations than we do. So I think that's an important point.
But nonetheless, when looking at Article 32, which I think Charlotte raised this morning on international cooperation, I think this is a very important article that we need to be looking at when looking at the issue of implementation through international development policy.
We need to be looking not just from within the U.S., but we can start with the U.S., and ask what is the United States government doing with its foreign aid? And is the foreign aid that we are giving explicitly ensuring that the issue of disability is meaningfully integrated into the grants and contracts which are being awarded? And how are we monitoring that?
Now, there is work that's being done for example by USICD, working with Senator Harkin and others to try to get not only language, which has previously been, but strengthening language, helping to ensure that disability organizations are not overshadowed by the larger NGOs which in many cases are receiving millions and millions of dollars and are very integrated into the USAID and State Department and other programs. So they easily can capture money. We're looking at what needs to be done to ensure that DPOs in the United States can, in fact, access funding.
But we're also needing to make sure that DPOs in middle income and developing countries benefitting from U.S. foreign assistance are also seen as integral partners, both with the U.S. DPOs and with the NGOs such as Sam will talk about through InterAction.
So we need allow both government and those who will be applying for money in the area of education, in the area of housing, in the area of transport, in the area of justice, legal rights, whatever it may be, to also be informed by the disabled people's organizations about how disability can be meaningfully integrated into the grants and contracts that they're applying for. So it means that those of us in this country have to be much more knowledgeable about grant making from the government and from the private sector. The private sector I think is slowly moving forward. We're seeing a little bit more movement in them looking at disabilities and human rights. And I believe that the passage of the Convention and the ultimate signing and ratification that will go on around the world are helping to stimulate some of the human rights entities to look at this more significantly, but I would say it is, at best, a drop in the bucket. Hopefully it will become a bigger drop over the next few years, but I think that will only occur if we can go beyond convincing the few people who get it to really understand why disability is the same as gender and the same as children and the same of X, Y, and Z. And there again, I think we have to really look at the work that many of the groups in this room are doing in middle income and developing countries and allow people to actually see how these changes are positively affecting people.
I want to talk just a couple of minutes about entities like The World Bank and the Inter-America Development Bank. Most of these kinds of institutions are doing very little in the area of disability. I would say that The World Bank is probably the leader on this issue right now in part because there are so few players out there. It's really critical that the players in this room and throughout the world get a better understanding of how these major development institutions are not only giving none governments as their primary players, but also ensuring that disabled people within those countries have a real opportunity to be able to participate in the development of various documents that are required by many of these countries. But likewise, there needs to be a voice that these development institutions are hearing from on a regular basis. And that voice needs to be holding these institutions accountable. Not once every three or four years. They need to be asked now, do you have a policy on disability? What role are you going to be playing in the implementation of the Convention? Can we please see what types of particular trainings you are giving to your staff, so if development X says to a staff person, we would like to know more about this Convention or we're interested in looking at how to develop language on education, inclusive education, whatever the particular issue may be, that someone from these institutions is either knowledgeable substantively or knows that the answer should not be, this is not important, don't deal with it, and knows to pick up a phone and speak to somebody like Charlotte at The World Bank who can give them technical assistance. But if you look at the Inter-American Development Bank, the African Development Bank, on and on, there is no infrastructure on disability. And to me, if there is no infrastructure within those institutions, how are they going to meaningfully engage with governments? And I think we also need to look at the other donors, like from the EU, Canada, Japan, United States, Australia, New Zealand. We really do understand this. You have people knowledgeable about disability policy in the U.S. government, and they're located in certain places, but if you go to most other places in the government in U.S., they are not knowledgeable about disability policy. Likewise, the people doing work in a little unit in USAID who are knowledgeable about disability policy in the U.S., have responsible for implementing U.S. disability policy, have a great difficulty getting their colleagues to really adopt and understand how this issue needs to be integrated.
So my feeling is, we need to have some real specialists in the United States that really are focusing on disability policy, on inclusive development, that really understand what the Ford Foundation, The World Bank, the other major institutions, what type of people do they look for to hire in their organizations? Are universities, in fact, recruiting disabled individuals to study in those fields? And equally important, are those universities working with them to get jobs? Because the people I know who are coming out of school have very significant problems getting jobs in the development arena. So people are discouraged from bean going in and studying. And we go and we work in NGOs and DPOs, which is fine, but the reality is, we need to be there but we also need to be working in the foundations, in the corporations, and in the development institutions.
So let me just conclude by saying, I think we need to be looking at capacity building, knowledge sharing, we need to look at groups in the U.S. like the Global Partnership for Disability and Development, some of the IDC and other organizations that are really focusing on this Convention, and we cannot forget and need to critically analyze what we need to do to ensure that the people on the ground will be the ones that will be working with the DPOs in countries and working with governments who have the responsibility for the ratification and implementation of these conventions, that they're getting the types of technical assistance that they need so that those in good faith who want to do the right thing can get the kind of support they need. Thank you.
ERIC ROSENTHAL: Thank you very much. Our next speaker, Sam Worthington, is head of InterAction, a consortium of international organizations based in the United States. InterAction has been extremely open to examining how it is that development groups in the United States need to be more inclusive of people with disabilities and develop programs to ensure that they reach out to and are appropriate for people with disabilities. So having him here today is a very, very important sign of the responsiveness of the mainstream international development organizations to the development of the U.N. Disability Convention.
SAM WORTHINGTON: Thank you very much for the chance to talk with you this afternoon. InterAction represents about 155 of the major organizations in this country. We receive about $3 billion from the U.S. government through grants and partnerships.
When you think about what organizations do, a prime example in the news right now would be Darfur, which is actually more about feeding and clothing people on the ground on a daily basis. We deal with staff being raped and attacked. These are people who live and work on less than a dollar a day in the poorest places on the planet.
Over the years, we have been shaped by what I call rights based approaches, a recognition that this is not just there to meet the needs of individuals but that individuals have the right not starve to death. They have the right not to be beaten. A woman has a right to speak out. A child has a right to love. And a person who is disabled has the right to be an active participant in society.
This has placed some tensions and strains on our community, because our rhetoric, and our ability to deliver on that rhetoric, are out of sync. To become a member of InterAction, there are certain standards that have to be met, about how you spend your resources, how you advertise, et cetera. Then there are issues of gender. We have passed a number of disability standards as well. In consistent with your mission, what are you doing within your organization on issues of disability, and as you deliver programs and services, do you have a conscious attempt from the outset and design of programs through the implementation and evaluation to look at integration of issues of disability within your programs.
And the reality, as these standards passed, is that we don't meet them. Because of the complexity of the world we operate in, but also because I think it's a challenge for the community to look in at itself at our own shortcomings. One of our members, which Eric is one, but Mobility International challenged our community to do a poll looking at how well we were doing. We ended up with about 104 organizations responding. Again, some of these organizations are very large and others are very small. When I say 165, some of them are very small church-based groups. Others are very large. But what we found is that a third of the organizations were in some way dealing with programs about disability, that there was a clear underrepresentation within their structures in terms of dealing with disability issues, but the biggest tension was one of, well, what do you do in a Darfur situation? What do you do when you're working in Uganda? What are the models out there that can be used for an organization whose intent is good but is having difficulty following through on their intent?
This is where a project was launched with Mobility International, where they took the practical steps of where can change happen in organizations that are large service and legal organizations who are founded on a mission who have adopted a profound interest in rights of individuals, and in this global context, I can't understress the value of this Convention, but in the global context, where the ability to hold a government into account is increased because of this slew of Conventions out there.
Our ability as institutions that work in service delivery over the last 20 years has shifted off times from let's deliver a service to let's partner with a local civil society actor in the delivery of that service. So this is where it comes to, well, who are you partnering with and how are you making a difference?
What Mobility International did, they looked at those members who have raised their hands and said, we have signed up to these standards, we want to do more in addressing them, and we want to look at how to implement these standards in our programs. They started off on the human rights framework, on issues of inclusion, and the relevance of inclusion to that organization's mission. For example, I'm relatively new at InterAction. Our focus where I came from was on children. We worked in 68 countries, 11 million children can, and it became apparent that close to 15% of children around the world are disabled. If we weren't touching that level of the population in a poor community, we were in essence overlooking a population that we must be taking care of and supporting in the sense of supporting the community to support itself.
Another example would be looking at inclusion in the sense of how do you adapt your programs? I noticed just a side comment on your bit on orphanages there, I think it's very widespread knowledge within our community that the institutionalization of individuals is not an approach to take. We have wrestled with this significantly in the AIDS orphan crisis in Africa. Where you have 11 million children who have been orphaned. In the organization I worked with, we started a program that touched 883,000 children to help children stay within their families. And this again, the stigma of AIDS and the stigma of being a child who is orphaned by AIDS. But what we find is it's much easier often times to sell to the American public, oh, take care of these children, put them in an institution and give to your local church or temple or whomever to do this.
But going back to this issue of training. The need for technical assurance. The need for partners in country. In every society, there is active civil society. Almost. And those active civil societies, if they are well developed, will include actors who are coming out of the disability community. And oftentimes, the NGO community is working parallel to and not directly with.
What came out of this was a number of common strategies that we found worked within InterAction members. One, there had to be a commitment from the CEO. This could not just be signing on to something. The leadership of the organization had to say this was a commitment. There had to be a key staff person in the organization responsible for disabilities. So in InterAction, we had an area focusing on gender, one on disabilities, and so forth. There have to be annual targets for inclusion. There has to be a baseline assessment of the data, and to disaggregate the data in terms of not only who is being served. This is an argument made for many years in the gender community. The same is true with data regarding the broader disability community. The images of people with disabilities, especially women and girls, needs to be seen as parts of integral programs, routine parts. We need to seek out disabled people's organizations for their technical assistance, and that there is in essence a reasonable cost allocated. This became obvious in the tsunami, in reconstructing certain areas. The push again from the donor community was deliver, build, make things happen. It's very different if you then sit down and talk with individuals within a community. What should your community center look like? How are your houses designed? Who is having a say over the nature of your schools, everything from the height of the windows to the access to the schools? All these things tend to slow down development work and oftentimes our communities have to push back and say, wait a second, don't judge us simply on the speed of how fast we delivered a service; look at how it's being done. This issue of local capacity, of building local capacity, is crucial.
And the question of why and how you can and should make a difference in the lives of those who are most disadvantaged is crucial both to your identity as an institution and how you deliver your projects. It's this barrier, I think, that we confront, from this rhetoric of we know we need to meet both this Convention and the standards we have for our institution, and the individuals on the ground in a tsunami region or simply in central Africa who are saying, how does it apply to me? How can I make a difference? This is where we're trying to provide training to our members to make that difference. Thank you.
ERIC ROSENTHAL: Thank you very much. I just wanted to announce, Sam had extended the invitation to this conference to members at InterAction. At their annual meeting, he also invited us to get together a disability affinity group. I know Judy, you will be at the meeting. Susan will be there. So anybody who is otherwise a member of InterAction will be there. We strongly encourage you to join a discussion group about disability and inclusive development.
Our third speaker is John Kemp, who is also one of the great leaders of the disability rights movement in the United States. I got to know him when he was president of USICD. We tried to buttonhole Congress to try to get legislation through, requiring U.S. foreign assistance program to be accessible. I just admired your persuasive qualities with members of Congress and hope to learn that skill someday myself.
He is now on the State Department Advisory Board on Disability and has some unique experience from the inside. Thank you.
JOHN KEMP: Thank you, Eric. I don't think I can live up to that. Any time I can be on a program with Judy Heumann, I just have to say thank you, Judy, for your great leadership over the years and all you've meant to all of us. We love you very much. And Eric and Laurie, thank you very much for putting this together with Robert Dinerstein and Arlene Kanter. Lots of leaders in this room. It's a privilege to be a part of this and see some very good friends. Jerry. Lots of folks.
I'm going to speak from personal orientation as well as from the State Department advisory committee. Why did the State Department create an advisory committee on people with disabilities? Stephanie, who is here, she and I visited very briefly. I blame her for nothing. I will take these on as my personal comments and observations. Kathy Martinez has reentered the room. She is also one of the six members of the advisory committee, so I think Kathy and I would probably agree on most of what I'm about to say, and Stephanie has no blame on this at all.
The advisory committee was created out of a compromise when Senator Harkin grilled then Secretary Powell about what he was doing about disability issues and foreign aid and what about this 504 stuff and what's the State Department's response and what are you doing about this. Caught totally off guard, they went back. With a little bit of nudging from Senator Harkin's office and staff, they came up with this idea that they would create a six-person advisory committee that would get together periodically - and I use that term loosely. I can do air quotes very well. So we get together periodically to discuss huge issues about foreign aid and the U.N. Convention and a variety of other issues. We've been blessed to have Stephanie there. She is told that she gets to spend approximately one-fourth of her whole time on the issue of supporting our committee. And that's about enough to make sure that the folks get an agenda, get travel, know where they're going. Our next meeting, by the way, will be May 2nd. But it's not enough. It's really underresourced and it's a token gesture to the disability communities. We did get a photo op outside Secretary Rice's office to meet with her one time. We were all standing or sitting in our scooters or wheelchairs. It was a photo op with brief remarks from her.
When we decide to write a report, it falls on us volunteers to do this. We are volunteers. We get paid a travel rate but that's all. This is a huge issue. They need a lot of help. They put us in a class that says like many others in the past have said, we just don't really value you as professionals providing input in this area, so we'll create an advisory committee. I've been a part of many advisory committees and I have been paid for my advice, as we should be as people with disabilities. But we take advantage of the opportunity, don't we, Kathy, to speak our minds and really to kind of hopefully help Stephanie be able to take the message inward to the State Department that this is a huge set of issues that has unfolded here. We are as disappointed as anyone by the failure of the United States to step up on the U.N. Convention.
We do look at issues ever foreign aid and how we use the moneys that the United States gives to countries of the world and how they can use that money and where it can go. We have to worry about whether you're embassies around the world are or should be built accessibly. We should be using the power of the federal dollars to really put in some values based standards about how this money can be spent and for what purposes and never to allow what Eric pointed out about the rebuilding of orphanages that are exclusionary and not inclusive whatsoever. So we have an opportunity and we'll keep trying, Stephanie. I know we'll try to represent in the broadest way possible what is going on and how we all feel about inclusion.
The department that Kathy's in - I'm sorry. That Stephanie is in - is the bureau of democracy, human rights, and labor, if I'm saying this right. In that, they study issues such as corporate social responsibility. This is in the State Department. Along with labor issues. Now, we are going to open that up a little bit and decide what we can talk about in there, but we would think that if there is some social responsibility in the disability area, it would be about reaching out to the margins of all of society and making sure everyone is properly included in all that's going on.
My second set of comments has to do with the future. It is important for to us step up to the challenge or the opportunity that's been given to us. There were some people who thought when we got Title V of the Rehab Act - I'm looking at Tom back there because he might have been the first author of it - or even the ADA, that we got our rights before our community had really come together. There was a lot of talk about that. Today we even have this I think - you're going to hear this boomerang back around on us, that this international movement and treaty really was kind of given to us and we gained it but our whole community hadn't really come together around all the issues. You're going to hear it. This was said for a while in our world about 504.
What we did was hopefully grow up fast. We certainly didn't have the systems in place. Look at how many lawsuits we had on 504. We literally went to the colleges where the judges go after they get their appointments and really start talking about the philosophy of disability rights in these colleges. But it's taken us a long time to feel worthy of having this opportunity. So disability leadership to me is challenged on an international level and maybe more so in the United States. I think there are countries that have far exceeded the U.S. disability rights movement. Far exceeded it. They've gained much more. It is not about can we have or should we have. Other countries are there and their citizenship doesn't question that people with disabilities have every right to fully participate. So we have a lot to learn around the world from a lot of great leaders here in the United States. Maybe that's one way we can talk with the funders about how to talk about what's going on around the world. There aren't enough Eric Rosenthals to travel around the world and bring back the information.
There is a disability culture. Most of us buy into that. We share in a pride and honor of being a person with a disability. We don't run from our identity. As people with disabilities, we have history and art that represent is our movement and us as individuals with varying differences. But we still have a phenomenon here that says that only 47% of people with disabilities accept the identity of disability altogether. And I know disability visits us at any and every stage of life. Some of us again and again. As I get older, I'm feeling like I should have brought my glasses with me. But there is this phenomenon of disability culture and talking about pride that is just starting to go out. I think the transmission of our culture will be expedited by having a treaty and a reason for people to get together in an understanding and appreciation of what it is to live life with a disability.
In terms of reporting, I appreciated the 1:00 speaker talking about the shame that governments, the actions used to shame governments to move in a certain direction. It is a very effective tool but it's not enough. It seems to be a slow process of, I catch you, I embarrass you, you move a little bit, you appease us a little bit, then we catch you again. We play this little cat and mouse game through this process. What we desperately need is leadership. We need it from government and from corporations, from unions. We need people to step up and take the lead to present an understanding for rationale about why inclusion is an appropriate method. Reporting is still going to be required.
I work with some very large international corporations, IBM and Hewlett Packard and other companies like this. What they're working on - and they feel very proud of this. They really want the disability community to speak up and ask the banks and the governments to deliver to them accessible information on electronic technologies to give them the opportunity participate fully. They're selling product out there but they've already developed the product in this world that can be used by many, many people, and they're asking the citizens and the customers of the world, don't be accepting second class status. Speak up about it. Tell your governments that if you're moving to E-government systems, and we think we are, that all people have a right and opportunity to participate and governments will pay for it because the product already exists.
And we do have this very uneven set of standards. Many of them are voluntary. We have these WCAG standards, and the whole area really around beyond just the technology world. But I see it as countries have very uneven floors of civil rights. We're not even sure if we have a floor. We don't even know if websites have to be accessible under the ADA in the United States. In Estonia, it's a constitutional right to have access to the internet and we're still screwing around 17 years after ADA trying to figure out if it's a civil right to have access to the internet. Have we been outdone or what? We have these uneven floors of civil rights trying to bridge around the world creating interoperability and certainly the 33 or 34 sections or articles in the U.N. Convention mention at least nine mention E and IT, where at least it's thought about there. If we're going to be able to communicate and be global entrepreneurs and communicate with our fellow citizens around the world, we have to have that. It goes to all other aspects ever life. Do we have this interoperability? No. We're far from it. We have this opportunity to start creating these kinds of conversations.
Then we have the international DPOs and NGOs. And I like talking about them separately. I think it's too easy at times - and I sure appreciate your comments, Sam, very much, and I'm glad you're running the organization - that we tend to think that the NGOs of this world will answer all of our problems and do that. There are just as many bureaucracies in NGOs as in governments. Unless they're held accountable such as with the standards that Sam just talked about, they will gladly slide on the disability stuff. Gladly. Costs money. Don't know where they're going to get it. Have other demands. Board members breathing down their necks. So to have standards that require the attention of disability is critical. But what's really essential is that the DPOs, the disabled peoples organizations, which we don't delineate well here in the United States really have to be speaking for people with disabilities. We have to acknowledge that we have the inherent capacity and ability to speak on behalf of people with disabilities. And it's distinguishing between NGOs and DPOs.
Lastly, one of the dreams of the AAPD, and Ann is here and I'm glad, is that AAPD will incubate an elected officials people with disabilities organization. It will hopefully create a place where elected officials in the United States can join, can come together, talk about their common issues, and then be spun off into its own. Much like women's movements and African-Americans and other minority group members have their own elected officials organizations. None exists now in the disability world. I see this worldwide. When we start to reach this level of political power and start talking about it, I think we will have accomplished something and informed the world about how policy can and should operate. Thank you.
ERIC ROSENTHAL: Before we go into questions and answers, there is a representative of USAID here, Ann Hayes. They have been responding to the legislation recently to make their programs more accessible. Ann, do you want to come up to the front and maybe take a few minutes and describe some of the ways that AID has responded to this legislation?
SPEAKER: Again, my name is Ann Hayes. I am a gender and disability specialist working on women and development fellowship. I was brought on to help implement the USAID policies on disability. Right now, USAID is trying to work on a twin track approach, trying to integrate all of our programs for people with disabilities, as well as recognizing that separate programs need to exist. For separate programs, through Senator Harkin and a lot of people in this room, there is a separate fund for disabilities established in 2005. This fund has primarily been given to DPOs. Last summer, there was a request for application that went through missions to work on political party building, advocacy, and the majority of the funds went to DPOs within the countries. Russia, for example. There are 11 countries that received those fundings.
We will also working with a group working with DPOs in Guatemala, Indonesia, and a couple other countries on how to integrate people with disabilities as well as working with DPOs to build their capacity.
There's also a request for proposals that will be coming out soon, particularly dedicated to U.S. disability groups. And that should be out hopefully within a couple of weeks. So keep your eye out for U.S. fed grants and see when that comes out.
Towards the integration portion, which I'm working on a little bit more, there are right now two distinct separate polices. One is that all new infrastructures should be accessible. This relates to Afghanistan and Iraq where most of our construction is being redone. There are some places, like OpEd where there was resistance to making schools accessible because people didn't understand. Most of the people I've encountered in USAID are open but aren't sure of the barriers that might be developing excluding people.
The other policy directive is all requests for applications or proposals should be inclusive of people with disabilities. Unfortunately, the spirit of the award isn't necessarily being lived out the way that we wanted. What is happening is it's often put in the back that we will integrate people with disabilities but the practice isn't actually being done. So I want to build awareness. What does that mean? How do you include people with disabilities? How do you reward organizations that show people with disabilities? So if there's an HIV program somewhere in Africa, they're looking towards disability organizations to be inclusive.
Also, there are separate work being done on disability, regardless, not using the disability funds but just doing different programs. For example, India is doing a wonderful program on inclusive education. They found that no one wanted to include the schools so they took all the specialized schools and integrated those first and showed how successful it was. Now they're working to all the regular state programs.
There's an example in Bela Cruz, where mothers could drop off their children for the day like a daycare system, because they found that mothers who had to work full time were abandoning their disabled children. So the answer here isn't institution, but first doing an awareness raising and then a daycare system.
Also, there is the Health and Human Services 9th Congress on Children with Disabilities where USAID sent 24 countries to that wonderful conference. So these are just a few things that USAID is doing. We've had some successes. We've had some challenges.
In Uganda, there was a lot of work with a mission on the importance of inclusion. And when they were doing their strategic planning for five years, they went on a retreat and brought together representatives from disabled persons organizations and said, this is our plan, how do we include disabilities into all of these programs. So they've looked at the plans and identified 25 areas of where people with disabilities should be included. Of those 25 areas, only five required additional funding. The rest just meant some modifications and adaptions to make sure that the barriers didn't exist. Having your training in an accessible facility, for example. Giving out materials in hard copy as well as electronic form. Using larger fonts. These are just some of the things that USAID is trying to do. It's a challenge. Little successes.
My boss is Lloyd Feinberg. He worked on the fund for Displaced Children and Orphans, Ladies War Victim Fund, which is another vehicle for which people with disabilities has been addressed. It started out primarily looking at people who had a disability as a result of a war. It became clear it need to be moved to more social economics. It also became clear that you can't just work with people who are injured from the war. So they have now moved to a much broader sense, primarily working in areas post conflict but now working with social conflict and with all people with disabilities. So just a few words.
ERIC ROSENTHAL: Okay. We have about ten minutes for questions and answers. Tina?
TINA MINKOWITZ: First, I really want to thank all of the members of this panel. I think we're really starting to move towards what we need to do in terms of strategy. So it's a very good move that we're progressing towards.
Judy, I think your idea that we should have materials passed out to get people involved I think is a good idea. I would be interested in working on that. And we also need, in addition to materials, we need strategies to look at the gaps. Who should be here and who isn't here? We need to see how we're going to reach out to the various communities of disabled people and make sure everybody is here.
I wanted to ask two things. One, you mentioned something about accessing funding for DPOs in the U.S. to implement the Convention. If you're talking about for domestic implementation, I would be very interested in knowing about that. Or are you talking about more DPOs doing work internationally?
JUDY HEUMANN: No. I think the point that Ann was making relates to both. I think Ann's point is that there's going to be an RFP which will come out not specifically on the Convention. I presume. I presume it's somewhat open? Or not. Is it specific?
SPEAKER: I honestly can't address that. But I can look into it. I'm not sure.
JUDY HEUMANN: Potentially, maybe it could be looked at from an advocacy perspective. So maybe it could be looked at in relationship to democracy and how disability groups here have done self help and advocacy and not speak specifically to the Convention. But the USAID money is looking at DPOs in the U.S., right? Yes, okay, and the other one, I don't think there's an answer yet as to whether it's exclusively international or not. It's a new funding developed.
TINA MINKOWITZ: The other question that I just wanted to ask, I know you're involved with the global partnership on disability and development. Are they taking the rights-based approach and looking at the Convention as the standard for how people are going to seek the implementation within the development context?
JUDY HEUMANN: I would say the answer to that is yes. Maybe because the number of the projects that they're working on are rights-based projects, empowerment projects, training projects, specifically to DPOs. The trainings right now have been focusing on issues like reduction strategy issues which are relevant in some countries but it's very much a rights-based approach.
ERIC ROSENTHAL: We'll take one last question if there is any. Yerker?
YERKER ANDERSSON: I know you've discussed (inaudible), but there's an additional one I think is important to mention. That's the National Council on Disabilities. They have an international perspective as well. There's a place for the exchange of ideas and information. I think it would be pertinent to ask Kathy Martinez to give a brief discussion about that, if she wouldn't mind.
ERIC ROSENTHAL: Kathy, do you want to say a word?
KATHY MARTINEZ: Can people hear me? What Yerker is talking about is a committee that the national council on disability started called international watch. The purpose is to exchange ideas and information. I happen to facilitate that committee. I think over the years it's been very helpful to determine the focus - it's an advisory committee for council. It has helped kind of bring folks together. I think it's been good because really it's a quarterly conference call. I think it's a great thing. Good things have happened. But I also think we need more than that as well. But I want to thank Yerker for bringing it to everybody's attention.
ERIC ROSENTHAL: Our next coffee break is brief because the next workshop is starting at 4:30. Probably the most important workshop, so I encourage people, please, to stay. So relax a little bit, grab some refreshments, and we'll get going at 4:30 sharp. Thank you.