The 27th Birthday of the Americans with Disabilities Act

By USICD President, Dr. Patricia Morrissey

Twenty-seven years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to draft amendments, along with my colleague, Randy Johnson, now with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that were retained in the law. The ADA not only transformed communities but recalibrated how we view each other, and built brighter futures for many people. Then from 2002 to 2006, the ADA was the guidebook for drafting the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), a U.N. disabilities rights treaty. The CRPD has been ratified by over 170 nations, but the U.S. is not one of them.

Historically, the U.S. has ratified few UN treaties. When a treaty focuses on human behavior should be, that makes many members of Congress nervous because these members fear that endorsing an international treaty is "potentially" an intrusion on our sovereignty as an independent nation.

But—whether we ratify the CRPD or not at some point—as a nation we stand for and must practice the principles that both the ADA and the CRPD reflect so clearly. These being, the opportunity and right of each individual with a disability to fully participate in and contribute to the communities, nations, and world of which they are a part.

This means we must seek out and offer to help people in other countries who are attempting to make these principles a reality in their homelands. It is not enough for us to affirm, practice, and protect these principles in the U.S. We must lend a hand and learn from others in faraway lands.

As you celebrate the anniversary of the ADA today, consider others less fortunate in the U.S. and elsewhere who would benefit from what you have experienced and know. The U.S. international Council on Disabilities plans to launching an online Global Connector in 2018 and hope you will consider joining it.

Thank you.

Patricia Morrissey

Board Member Testimonials


Board Members Judy Heumann, Jerry McCloskey, Candace Cable and Shelia Newman

Visit our new USICD Board Member Testimonials page to read why being a member of USICD is important to them.  Contact us to share your personal testimonial!

USICD Partners with the Embassy of Afghanistan on Disability Rights Conference

USICD Deputy Director, Isabel Hodge with Afghan IVLP delegates & government representatives and advocates.

On 23-24 May, USICD partnered with the Embassy of Afghanistan, the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council, and Georgetown University's Center for Child and Human Development to hold a disability rights conference on at Georgetown University.  
The Afghanistan Disability Rights Conference: From Policy to Programming was a follow-up to the first National Conference on Disablity Rights convened by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the Presidential palace in October, 2016. Under President Ghani, the Afghan government has made disability rights a national priority.
The conference, which included USICD Board members, Stephanie Ortoleva and Judy Heumann, focused on practical approaches for making inclusive education, inclusive public healthcare, and vocational training and employment opportunities a reality for Afghan citizens living with disabilities.
Afghanistan's Ambassador Dr. Hamdullah Mohib welcomed participants. Also during the first day of the event, prominent Afghan and international disability rights advocates spoke on panels and responded to questions from the audience. On the second day of the conference, USICD was honored to host the Afghan delegates for a Knowledge Sharing Workshop where they had the opportunity to speak with American experts from U.S. disability organizations.
Check out USICD's Twitter feed @USICD  or #AFGDisabilityConf to see photos from the event.

USICD Releases Consolidations of Disability Citations in the 2015 State Department Human Rights Repo

Each year, the U.S. Department of State releases an extensive compilation of human rights reports covering the previous calendar year for 194 different countries around the world. The full set of human rights reports for a single year can easily fill thousands of pages. For people who want to see only the disability-related citations woven throughout these reports, it can take a long time to wade through these thousands of pages to find them.

USICD's team has done the work for you! Each year, USICD staff and interns seek out references to disability issues throughout the State Department human rights reports and consolidate them into a single file for each major geographical region. These regional reports are also consolidated into a single, much larger file. Each file can be downloaded in accessible PDF format. The disability consolidations covering the year 2015 have just been completed and are now available via USICD's website. You also can find disability consolidations going back to the year 2010:
USICD's team is now working on consolidating disability citations that were in the US State Department reports covering the year 2016, which were recently released. We will announce in our newsletter when the 2016 consolidations become available sometime later this year.

AmazonSmile - A No Cost Way to Donate to USICD

AmazonSmile logo

You can contribute to USICD at no cost to you! USICD is a registered organization with the AmazonSmile program. That means, if you sign up to participate in the AmazonSmile program, .05% of all eligible purchase amounts will go to USICD. If you spend $500 per year, USICD will receive $25; if you spend $1,000, USICD gets $50. Just think how that could be multiplied if you get all your family members and friends to do the same. Every donation, no matter how small, takes us one step closer to realizing our vision. 

It's easy to do! Visit AmazonSmile and on your first visit select the "United States International Council on Disabilities" as the charitable organization you want to receive your donations before you begin shopping. Amazon will remember your selection, and then every eligible purchase you make at will result in a donation to USICD. Tens of millions of products are eligible for donations and such eligibility is noted with the product's information with the simple message: Eligible for "AmazonSmile" donation.
Bookmark to make it even easier to return and shop at AmazonSmile. There are no differences in prices or products if you shop through except that a percentage of the money you spend goes to USICD. 

Please take a few minutes to take this simple action if you shop on Amazon and encourage others to do the same. 

Thank you so much. 

USICD Resource Committee

USICD's 25th Anniversary!

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The USICD Board of Directors and staff are happy to announce that 2017 will be USICD's 25th Anniversary!
USICD was incorporated as the United States Council for International Rehabilitation in 1992, and became the USICD we know today in 2002.  From our beginning and continuing today, we remain the U.S. member in both Rehabilitation International and Disabled Peoples' International, and our membership continues to include the leading disability organizations and visionary advocates in the U.S. today.  We have grown over the years from a small, volunteer driven organization to one with a staff, office, a diversity of programs, and a global network of colleagues and partners.
In 2009 when USICD launched a campaign for United States signature and ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), you answered the call to action.  When President Obama ordered his ambassador to the United Nations to sign the CRPD in 2009, we celebrated together.  And when we lost our only vote yet for ratification in the Senate in 2012 by 5 votes, you stood up, louder and stronger than ever.  Our community is amazing and USICD is eternally grateful to all those who volunteered their time and resources to the CRPD effort.  One day we will prevail.  And USICD will need you with us.
Please take a moment to browse past issues of our newsletter, sign up to receive future newsletters, read our most recent Annual Report, or our website's page introducing you to our Board of Directors.  Together with you, we are committed to action and advocacy on disability rights for the one billion persons with disabilities in the world.  Your role in USICD as member, supporter, and friend is vital to our work today and our reach tomorrow.  We hope you will be a part of the future by joining USICD today!