Latin America & Caribbean
A publication entitled “Learning from experience: strengthening organisations of women with disabilities” (PDF format, 1.3 Mb) shares lessons learned about organizing, personal empowerment, awareness raising, and incorporating a gender perspective. The publication focuses on work done by a Nicaraguan non-governmental organization (NGO), Solidez, that works to strengthen the capacity of local disabled women’s organizations and integrate women with disabilities into society. Solidez aims to help independent organizations improve their ability to manage their own decisions and self development.
In particular, this profile about Solidez is meant to analyze the lessons they have learned in organizational work and projects, empowerment and personal growth, awareness raising, and advocacy. It describes some of the barriers that Solidez has encountered in its work, for example in overcoming negative, religion-based attitudes toward gender or disabilities. Solidez also explains some of the strategies they used and their results: for example, they attribute part of their success to the use of home visits and meetings in women’s homes. The publication offers frank discussion of some of the challenges Solidez has confronted, such as finding ways to support groups in resolving sometimes very emotional inter-personal conflicts. It concludes with recommendations for how Solidez could further improve upon its efforts.
The publication is available from One World Action, an NGO based in the United Kingdom that works to create opportunities for the world’s poorest people.
You can download “Learning from experience: strengthening organisations of women with disabilities” in PDF format (1.3 Mb) at
We Can Do learned about this case study through contacts at Mobility International USA and from the Siyanda database of resources on gender and development.
Learn how to receive an email alert when new material is posted at We Can Do (wecando.wordpress.com).
I have now added a page to the top navigation bar, News, that consolidates all the news and press releases posted at We Can Do since this blog began.
I mostly cribbed this new page from the work I did recently for the We Can Do Retrospective: The First 100 Posts (and Then Some). However, if you compare the two, you will see that there are more items listed under the “News” page in the top navigation bar than there are in the Retrospective post. That’s because, when I wrote the Retrospective post, I made a rule with myself that each We Can Do post would be listed only once, even if it arguably belonged in more than one category. Some of the “news” items reported new resources that might still be helpful for readers months or years from now. So I listed those items under “Resources” in the Retrospective post instead of news. But for the “News” page in the navigation bar, I made sure to include anything that was tagged as “news” when it was first posted.
I will try to keep the “News” page up to date. You will notice that it already includes one news item that has gone up since the Retrospective post.
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URL for this page: http://tinyurl.com/2eeldt
Independent Living Movement in Developing Countries
by Shoji Nakanishi
Disabled People International (DPI) Japan
It has been many years since experts of rehabilitation recommended training and educations to people with disabilities to enable them to get jobs as non disabled people do. The experts believe that independence means only economical independence. As a result, parents think it impossible for their disabled children to live independently in their communities. Parents tend to put these children into a residential institution for them to live permanently. Following these ideas, the government is promoting to build more institutions and to train more experts for people with disabilities.
The Independent living movement by severely disabled people in America denied institutions that lead to isolation and discrimination. In 1972 The First IL center was established in Berkeley, the second one in Houston, in 1974 the third in Boston. A lot of IL centers have come into the world in a very short time. All disabled people in the whole country were united, and then won the amendment of rehabilitation law in 1978. As a result, IL centers got great opportunities to get subsidies from the federal government. “Independent Living: From Social Movement to Analytic Paradigm”, An academic paper written by Gerben DeJong, published in 1978, drastically changed the way of thinking toward disabilities, from rehabilitation to independent living. With this paper, the philosophy of independent living was accepted as a social movement on a academic basis. These two events rapidly promoted the establishment of IL centers nationwide.
Independent Living Movement In Developed countries
The IL movement, which gave dreams and wishes to disabled persons, has grown to service provision systems by disabled peoples themselves and advocacy activities by IL centers in these 30 years in all developed countries, except the Oceania region.
Ed Roberts, the founder of the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley and other activists with disabilities said, “People with disabilities should live in communities.” “People with disabilities are neither patients to be cared for, children to be protected, nor Gods to be worshipped.” “People with disabilities themselves can identify their necessary assistance and manage it.” “People with disabilities are the victims of social prejudice rather than victims of disabilities.” This philosophy was soon accepted in many parts of the world. On the grounds of this philosophy, IL centers are providing these services below:
- Dispatch of Personal Assistants.
- There are two ways of dispatching personal assistants; one is the way of direct dispatching like in Japan, another in the way of introducing through IL centers like in the U.S.
- Counselling, talking or sessions among peers who have the same or similar experiences of disabilities.
- Housing and social welfare referral are included.
Now the organizations of IL centers are established in each country and region, such as NCIL in America, CAILC in Canada, JIL in Japan, and ENIL in Europe. In 1999 The first summit of World independent Living was held in Washington D.C, U.S.A . Since then, three summits have taken place in different areas where a great number of disabled leaders, including leaders from developing countries became involved.
Conditions concerning Independent Living in developing countries
The Idea of independent living, which insists on self-decision and self-management, also fascinated people with disabilities in developing countries. But because of lack of social resources, it is thought to be difficult in developing countries to achieve environments where there are enough services and accessibilities. Moreover, quite a few people thought by mistake that independence means only economical independence, so that they believed that nobody can live an independent life except for a lightly disabled person. It is nearly impossible for people with disabilities to get jobs in Asia, where only 5 or 10 percent of disabled children can have school education.
As a result, almost all developing countries tried to get disabled people to be independent through CBR (Community based rehabilitation) produced by experts, in the same period of the IL movement. Services based on institutions could be only beneficial for disabled people living in urban areas. The main target of CBR is for disabled people who live in rural areas, occupying 7 or8 percent of the total population. Non-disabled people in their communities were voluntaries trained as CBR workers, and then they did some simple rehabilitation work and help the daily lives for disabled people. Indeed, the quality of life for disabled persons might get improved to some extent, through basic physical training, walking training, sign language education, inclusion by CBR workers, and financial aids of private companies like Micro Credit. But CBR did not necessarily bring independent living for disabled persons though disabled persons had joined as official members since the beginning of providing services. That is because CBR was firstly positioned as extentions of institutions, so that disabled persons were kept under control or management of experts without disabilities.
It is often the case that disabled people who have loved the idea of IL also name their activities IL in some developing countries. For example, a certain disability organization In Mexico established a new organization named “International Organization of Independent Living for People With Disabilities”, arranging the curriculum for disabled people which included lessons about fitness, physiology, swimming, manipulation of wheelchair, driving of remodeled cars, sexuality and family life, urology, training of daily living activities etc. In Thailand, one of the staff with disabilities working at Sirindorn National Medical Rehabilitation Center suggested the Independent Living Unit, providing much the same program as Mexico’s organization did. Even though these trials may not always share the same meaning of original independent living, it indicates that there are also many disabled people having a try at independent living by themselves, in developing countries.
Scheme for spreading IL in developing countries
In 1980, American disabled people who had got involved in the IL movement began to act in other countries to spread the philosophy abroad. Nowadays, Japan is taking charge of propagation of IL in the Asian region, while in America, IL centers or other organizations like Mobility International are inviting other countries’ disabled leaders to their training seminars.
One of 4 activities is often adopted as a way of spreading the IL philosophy in developing countries; first is promoting theoretical framework of IL, second, advocacy, third, participation of severely disabled persons in self-help organizations, and the last, showing a role model as an example of IL.
1. Activity to promote the theoretical framework of IL
Firstly it is necessary to correct the mistake about IL that independence means doing everything alone without any help. In spite of someone’s help, it is regarded as IL, if only self-decision and self-management can be done. This idea welcomes people with disabilities as “very good news”. But, in most cases, this acceptance does not immediately bring grassroot activities. For instance, a lot of disabled people were excited to meet American activists who came to Japan for an IL promotion tour in 1982, but the IL movement in Japan did not start untill the first IL center was established in 1986. It is very important to follow up on their experiences.
The first IL seminar in Asia was held in Bacolod, the Philippines in 1994, mainly promoted by STIL, Sweden and the Human Care Association, Japan. Three Asian persons with quadriplegia joined this seminar. After the seminar, Motab from Bangladesh tried to expand his job at the Center for the Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed to the activity of independent living but in vain because of his death 3 years ago. Male participants from the Philippines, all of whom had already married, got quite interested in the IL movement, but they found it difficult to make a movement in their own country, because they had to prepare for their family before they join the movement. On the other hand, Topong from Thailand, on the grounds of the ideals of the IL movement, held a demonstration for better access of Sky Train, and educated other organizations in local areas. The Human Care Association supported his activities, and then offered him to come to Japan for training
Famous disabled activists participated in the 1999’s seminar in Malaysia held by the Asia Disability Institute. One of them was Christine Lee, who had staged a demonstration for access of the mono railway at the risk of being arrested. All participants were wildly enthusiastic on the last day of the seminar, and promised each other to promote the IL movement more actively from now on. But actually, few of them were able to increase their activities in the IL movement. There may be two reasons. One is most of the participants have their own jobs and have no time for the IL movement; the other is that severely disabled persons who really need IL have not joined the movement yet.
Promoting activities are very essential to support and spread the IL movement
The IL movement in Brazil was based on advocacy. Rosangela Berman Bieler, a Brazilian woman with quadriplegic who happened to visit an IL center in America was so impressed with its philosophy that she joined the IL movement. In 1988 CVIRJ, the first IL center in Brazil, was establish by her in Rio de Janeiro. CVIRJ began to start a movement for easy access to the city, such as getting rid of steps on side walks. The problem of accessibility is very meanful not only because it is a problem that applies to all kinds of disabled people, but also because it will bring visible outcomes as advocacy. The IL center in Brazil made the movement more powerful by keeping contact with IL centers in America. Now in Brazil, there are 25 IL centers established, and the national union of IL centers has been united.
In South Korea, the IL movement has made rapid progress in a short time, because the Korean people getting involved with the IL movement have already created activities of advocacy on a large scale. Chon Manfu, a severely disabled person who applied for the role model of IL in 2000, was empowered through the experiences of joining big demonstration in 2001 and a long-term hunger strike in May 2002, triggered by the death of a wheelchair user at a subway station. These events were arranged by Pack Gyoung Souk, the principal of a night school for the disabled people. A lot of his students, who have studied IL, are taking part in the IL movement, which is one of the reasons why the Korean IL movement has such power. Now, the main issue in Korea is to train disabled people as peer counselors. The physical and mental conditions for developing IL in Korea are being prepared; 3 IL centers in Japan, Human Care Association, CIL Tachikawa, and HANDS Setagaya, collaborated with each other to establish a new project team that dispatches peer counselors to Korea several times a year and provides long-term training in Japan for Korean disabled leaders. As a result, some of them have reached the high standard of peer counselors that JIL is setting. There are 5 IL centers in Korea.
3. Participation of severely disabled persons in self-help groups
In Thailand, many disabled people used to sell lottery as a job, which made enough money to prepare for their own family. But because of this job, the disability movement did not grow among people with disabilities in Thailand. Under these circumstances, Topong, as I said before, thought it was only the IL movement that would change the environment of disabled people in Thailand. He tried to promote the IL movement in collaboration with 3 organizations of disabled people, Nontabri,Chonbri,Nakonpatom, three of which were very conscious about the rights of people with disabilities. To support his activities, the Human Care Association invited him to come to Japan for an IL seminar.
Each of these three organizations were democratic self-help groups, which provided home visiting services for disabled persons. Leaders of these organizations were willing to accept the idea of IL. The first step of a three year project is to open a seminar by Japanese disabled leaders, ten participants from three organizations were all studying hard, but none of them were severely disabled. So, the project team gave a task for them that they should find at least five severely disabled persons and take them outside their homes until the next years’ seminar was held.
After this, three organizations began to train students to be a voluntary staff, and ask them to take severely disabled persons outside. Some of disabled persons went outside for the first time in their lives; some of them were strogly opposed by their families, so that they were forced to refuse staff visits; some of them gave up to go outside because of their bad health; some of them had lifters fixed in their bathroom by staff who saw families lift the disabled person with great difficulty. As a result, many of them attended the peer counselling workshop held in 2002 empowered physically and mentally. As they are finished learning skills of managing an IL center in 2003-2004 year, the real activities are ready to start.
4. Showing role model of IL
Young disabled persons who belongs to the MileStone Society in Pakistan came to Japan for the Duskin Training Program, including the 9 month IL seminar at several IL centers, such as Human Care Association and Main Stream Association. It is almost a year since they have gone back to Pakistan and begun to start the IL movement. They looked around Lahore to discover severely disabled persons confined in their homes, and persuade them to attend training workshops held at an office. They asked some promising participants to experience IL in a room in the corner of the office.
In the end, a young girl with muscular dystrophy made a decision to live independently. She learned various IL skills such as how to take proper care from others and how to tell personal assistants what she wanted her PA to do by actually living in a special room arranged in a corner of her house. In the day time, now she works as a member of the Life IL Center the renamed office, riding in a power wheel chair taken from Japan. It is very meaningful that she began to live independently for the first time in Pakistan, moreover in such an Islamic society, where women are likely to be conservative. After her independence, two male disabled persons, who have been encouraged by her, want and even practice now to live independently.
Spreading the correct philosophy of IL
It is true that more and more people have heard about IL, and especially in developing countries, where their expectation toward IL is getting bigger and bigger. Nevertheless, most of them have given up their dreams, making excuses like these: “We have no resources to use in our country.” “Prejudices against disabled people are still deeply rooted.” “Government does not still prepare sufficient welfare systems.”
One of the strategies to achieve the targets of the Biwako Millennium Framework for Action is “Strengthened community-based approaches for the prevention of causes of disability, rehabilitation and empowerment of persons with disabilities.” It says that “Many developing countries in the region are now beginning to augment and replace traditional institutional and centralized rehabilitation programmes and projects with approaches better suited to their social and economic environments of poverty, high unemployment and limited resources for social services. Community-based rehabilitation programmes form the hub of such strategies. The community-based approach is particularly appropriate for the prevention of causes of disability, early identification and intervention of children with disabilities, reaching out to persons with disabilities in rural areas, raising awareness and advocacy for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all activities in the community, including social, cultural and religious activities. Education, training and employment needs could also be met by this approach. It is essential that persons with disabilities exercise choice and control over initiatives for community-based rehabilitation..” It even recommends in Strategy 10 that “Governments, in collaboration with organizations of persons with disabilities and civil society organizations, should immediately develop national policies, if that has not yet been done, to promote community-based approaches for the prevention of causes of disability, for rehabilitation and for the empowerment of persons with disabilities. Community based rehabilitation (CBR) perspectives should reflect a human rights approach and be modeled on the independent living concept, which includes peer counselling.”
Many people tend to think it nearly impossible to introduce IL to their countries. Naturally the idea of IL can apply to all disabled people in all countries by all ages. The problem is whether you can have the courage of doing what you have not done yet, and whether you have many peers and friends who will support your activity. Pioneers have a lot of difficulties, but have a great impact on other people. Nowadays a variety of IL programs and seminars are prepared for such people. People in developed countries including ＵＳ are ready to assist you to be a leader of IL movement. We are showing the achievements and good news of IL at all times.
Thank you to author Shoji Nakanishi for granting permission to publish this article at We Can Do. Shoji Nakanishi is currently Chairperson of DPI Asia Pacific and Treasurer DPI World Council. He founded the Japan Council on Independent Living Centers.
I first learned about this paper when Ghulam Nabi Nazimani passed it along.
Have you written an article that you think would be appropriate for publication at We Can Do? Please review the We Can Do Wish List for Written Materials and Resources and contact me. You may either leave a comment somewhere at this blog or sent me an email to ashettle [at] patriot.net.
To find more academic papers or research related to people with disabilities in developing countries, click on Academic Papers and Research under “Categories” in the right-hand navigation bar.
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If you’re new to We Can Do, what interesting information, news, or resources might you have overlooked from the past few months? Although some older items may no longer be interesting, others may still be relevant and helpful a year or three from now. This post can help guide you through the first 100-plus posts at this blog. You can click from the table of contents below to any section of this page that interests you–and then another click on “table of contents” can take you back to the contents, or “top of this page” takes you back to this introduction.
- About We Can Do
- The five most popular We Can Do posts
- The five most under-rated We Can Do posts
- Finding Practical Resources and Case Studies, or Helpful Organizations
- Finding sources of information, research, papers, or statistics
- Funding sources: leads on where to find funding support
- Academic papers related to disabled people in developing countries
- News related to disabled people in developing countries
- Opinion pieces
- Call for papers for conferences and journals
- International Conference and Event Announcements
- Job, internship, and volunteer opportunities
- Education and training opportunities
- Missed opportunities for events, jobs, etc.
- What’s next for We Can Do?
About We Can Do
Thinking about submitting your own written materials, job posts, conference announcements, or resources to We Can Do? Check the Wish list for written materials and resources.
Want to receive an alert in email when a new post goes up at We Can Do? You can Subscribe to We Can Do for free.
I changed the organization and appearance of We Can Do in early October to its present format.
The Five Most Popular We Can Do posts
The five listed here are the ones that have attracted the most “page views” since We Can Do began in late July. You may notice that not all of these are featured in the 10 “most popular posts” listed in the right-hand navigation bar. That’s because the navigation bar only lists posts that have received a lot of traffic very recently (I think within the past few days; its done automatically by wordpress so I’m not sure how it works). But here I’m listing the five that have the highest TOTAL page views.
- An announcement about the International Day of Disabled Persons, held on December 3, 2007, has received more than 600 hits.
- More than 500 We Can Do readers were especially anxious to learn more about some limited available funding for conference participation from developing nations.
- More than 400 readers wanted to learn from a Case study on early intervention for blind children.
- The international Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD) in plain language has attracted more than 400 readers. This version of the CRPD was written for people who have trouble understanding the legal language of the original, or who want a tool to help them translate the CRPD into another language.
- More than 400 people have learned more About We Can Do.
The Five Most Under-Rated We Can Do posts
Are these posts really under-rated? You’ll have to read them and decide for yourself. But in choosing these five, I used two criteria: 1. These are posts that have received fewer than 100 visitors–sometimes far fewer. 2. These are posts that I think could be helpful or interesting to readers and maybe deserve more attention than they have gotten. These are in no particular order:
- See Finding development organizations and resources for a link that can help you find major international development organizations and funders. Some of these organizations already work on disability issues and may be interested in building new partnerships with new DPOs, development organizations, and other NGOs.
- Equipment that enables blind people in industrialized countries to read computer screens can be expensive. But new technology can help bring screen readers and magnifiers to blind people in developing countries. The Sightsaver’s Dolphin Pen is cheaper, which means it is easier to afford in countries where the average income may be only a few hundred dollars per person per year.
- Looking for statistics to back up your arguments, or to add to your literature review for your dissertation? You can consult Numbers Don’t Feed People–Or Do They?” for a few leads.
- Want to help teach disabled people in your country about the international Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)? Handicap International has developd a teaching kit on the CRPD with suggested teaching points, power point programs, Word files and PDF files.
- Teachers, parents, and other advocates for children can use the Child-friendly version of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to teach both disabled and non-disabled children about disability rights.
Finding Practical Resources and Case Studies or Helpful Organizations
Mainstream international development agencies sometimes say that they don’t know how to find people with disabilities, or their representative organizations, in the developing countries where they work. Reviewing the July post entitled Finding Local Disability Organizations may help point you in the right direction. Also see Disability Organizations in Afghanistan, Asia, Kenya, Uganda.
Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) sometimes aren’t sure where to find mainstream development organizations and resources that might be willing to collaborate with them.
There is an international network of organizations for families of people with Rubinstein Taybi Syndrome.
Resources for Inclusive Development
Both disability advocates and mainstream development organizations want to ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind when countries and organizations fight poverty or improve public health, education, water, and other services. But it can be a challenge to figure out how to make projects and government policies more inclusive. The following resources can help:
- Making Poverty Reduction Strategies Inclusive: for disability advocates and other individuals or organizations that want to help national government policies become more inclusive of disabled people when they fight poverty. This handbook can be downloaded for free.
- Handbook on Mainstreaming Disability, for mainstream international development organizations written by Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO). Download for free.
- An On-line book on Universal Design and Visitability can be downloaded for free.
Resources on the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
By now, you may be aware that a global movement is taking place to ratify the international disability rights treaty, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Many relevant resources are now being produced in relation to the CRPD, some of which have been posted or featured here at We Can Do:
Reviewing case studies of projects implemented elsewhere can be a valuable source of ideas that could help you figure out how to run or implement your own projects. I would love to post many more best-practice and failed-practice case studies than I have available right now. If you think you have something worth sharing, please check my Wish List of Written Materials and Resource and contact me at ashettle [at] patriot.net.
But for now, here are two case studies:
- A Case Study about an Early intervention program for blind children in Russia
- a collection of short case summaries of projects for deaf children in Burkino Faso, Zimbabwe, Somaliland, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, and India
- A set of Recommendations on how to empower people with intellectual disabilities in the Asian and Pacific region was developed at a conference held in the region in October 2007.
- A dictionary for Sri Lankan Sign Language has been published.
- A new device functions as a screen reader or magnifier for blind people in developing countries: this Sightsavers’ Dolphin Pen is cheaper than the standard screen readers used in industrialized countries. That helps bring it within reach of a wider number of blind people even in countries where the average income is very low.
Finding Useful Sources of Information and Research
Finding academic research, papers, resources, or statistics
Looking for academic research and academic papers; resources that can be used by people working in the field; or sources of statistics? Some of the following posts may be helpful:
- Disability Knowledge: Hungarian and English
- Numbers Don’t Feed People–Or Do They? On finding statistics relevant to disabled people in developing countries
Information on people with disabilities
Interested in learning about the living conditions of people with disabilities in specific nations, or in specific thematic areas? Some of the following may be of interest:
- Report on Disabled People in Zimbabwe
- World Bank Report on Disabled people in India
- A report on research capacity on mental health in low- and middle-income countries was published by the Global Forum for Health Research on Mental Health Day in October 2007.
- The International Labour Organization (ILO) published a report on employment and people with disabilities, which calls for more active and sustained efforts to increase the employment of people with disabilities in part to help meet the Millennium Development Goals.
- An early post reviews information on deaf children with additional disabilities and resources available for them in developing countries.
- The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) may have some funding for DPOs, NGOs, or other entities to be used for disability inclusion.
- The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) has come out with a resource that could help women’s organizations find funding.
- The Worldwide Initiative for Grantmaker Support (WINGS) Global Fund for Community Foundations makes grants of up to $50,000 USD to emerging and developing community foundations or support organizations in developing countries. Note that these funds are NOT meant for individual non-government organizations (NGOs) but for small FOUNDATIONS or organizations meant to SUPPORT NGOs.
- The United Nations Democracy Fund holds an annual competition for funding applications for projects to promote better democratic participation. The 2007 deadline is December 18. Missed it? Review their information carefully and consider preparing early for their next funding round.
- Looking for funding to attend an international or local conference? three organizations have some limited funds available for conference participation from developing countries; two of these are focused on Latin America, but the first one listed (the Ford Foundation) covers other regions as well.
- The Inter-American
Foundations Grassroots Development Fellowship Program offers research fellowships to doctorate (PhD) students who want to study grassroots movements among poor people in Latin America. The application deadline is January 22, 2008.
- Funding is available for South Asian projects on HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination; the application deadline is January 31, 2008.
We Can Do has published, or re-published, academic papers, or linked to same, on a range of subjects, including:
- Violence against blind and visually impaired girls in school in Malawi by Abigail Suka
- Changing Face of Disability Movement: from Charity to Empowerment by Kishor Bhanushali
- Impact of the South Asian Earthquake on Disabled People in the State of Jammu and Kashmir by Dr. Parvinder Singh
- Equalizing Educational Opportunity for the Nigerian-Ghanaian Blind Girl Child by Florence Banku Obi.
- Violence Against Women with Disabilities in South Africa by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation in South Africa.
At one point in September, the international disability community prematurely thought we might be On the Verge of Making History by ratifying the disability rights community.
- In October, We Can Do reported that Gabon and India ratified, and Cambodia signed, the International CRPD (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities).
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has initiated a project improving access to services for people with psycho-social (psychiatric) disabilities.
- An activist, Mussa Chiwaula, has been lobbying the Malawi government for disability rights.
- Read a report on the first known African deaf HIV/AIDS workshop.
- Mental Disabilities Rights International (MDRI) reports severe abuse and human rights violations of people with mental disabilities in Argentina.
- A Report was issued on a disability forum held in Pakistan.
- Mugiho Takeshita at the UNDP’s Crisis Prevention and Recovery was seeking information on implementing the CRPD in relation to crisis prevention and recovery for disabilities caused by violence and natural disaster.
- A Report was issued from the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters Conference that was held in Spain in July 2007.
- Mental Disabilities Rights International (MDRI) reports on human rights abuses of disabled children and adults in Serbia.
- The Commonwealth Disabled People’s Conference issued a Memorandum calling for Commonwealth countries to support the CRPD.
- A Brazilian journalist and disability advocate received the International Service Human Rights Award for her defense of the human rights of people with disabilities.
- The International Day of Disabled Persons was held on December 3, 2007.
- A web site on Disability Awareness Week in India was launched.
- Disability advocates have launched a global campaign to ratify the international disability rights treaty.
- The United Nations Secretary General made a statement in support of employing disabled people.
- People in India celebrated the International Day of Disabled Persons.
- Rosangela Berman Bieler made a statement on receiving the International Services Human Rights Award.
- Read a summary of a round table discussion on disability rights in Bangladesh, which held in December 2007.
- Bangladesh, Spain, Namibia, and Nicaragua ratify the international disability rights treaty (CRPD).
- El Salvador, Mexico ratify the CRPD.
So far, the opinion pieces here are all by me. But I would like for We Can Do to be host to an active exchange of ideas and differing perspectives. If you have a strong opinion about something, please consider submitting it. Yes, that includes opinions that disagree with mine! Consult the Wish list for written materials and resources for ideas of the kinds of topics I’m trying to cover at We Can Do.
Meanwhile, here are a few of my own opinion pieces:
- Dying for Employment
- Channeling Remittances from Disabled Emigrants
- One Laptop Per Child–But is it Inclusive?
Call for Papers (for Conferences, Journals, Other)
You might be just now starting your academic career as an undergraduate or graduate student. Or perhaps you have been doing quantitative or qualitative research, or writing policy analysis, or case studies, or social analysis, for years. Either way, if you’re looking for opportunities to present, publish, or otherwise disseminate your papers or run a workshop, then check out these upcoming or ongoing opportunities:
- A Call for proposals for an international forum on women’s rights and development is open until January 28, 2008. The conference itself will be in November 2008.
- A Call for papers for the International Conference on Social Science Research Methodologies is open until February 2008. The conference itself will be in September 2008.
- Authors are needed to Write book chapters for a book to be entitled, “Post-Conflict Rehabilitation: Creating a Trauma Membrane for Individuals and Communities and Restructuring Lives after Trauma”.
- If you have ever written a paper about the World Bank for a class or for a dissertation during your post-secondary education, then you can share your university papers on the World Bank.
International Conferences and Events
The South Asian Conference on Autism is being held in New Delhi, India in January 2008.
The 8th annual meeting of the Gulf Disability Society will meet in United Arab Emirates in March 2008.
- The Pacific Rim Conference on Disabilities will meet in the Hawaii islands, USA, in April 2008.
- The 8th Symposium of the Arab Federation of the Organs of the Deaf “Improving Education and Rehabilitation of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing People” will be held in Saudi Arabia in April 2008.
- The Unite for Sight International Health Confernece will be held at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, USA in April 2008.
- The Conference on the International Convention on the Rights of Persons on Disabilities will be held in Ethiopia in May 2008.
- The i-CREATE International Conference on Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology will be held in Thailand in May 2008.
- The 21st World Congress of Rehabilitation International will meet in Quebec in August 2008.
- The International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication conference will be held in Montreal, Canada, in August 2008.
- The International Conference on Social Science Research Methodologies will meet in South Africa in September 2008. A Call for Paper/Presentation Abstracts is open until February 2008.
The Association on Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)’s International Forum on Women’s Rights and Development will be held in Cape Town, South Africa in November 2008. A call for proposals is open until January 28, 2008.
Jobs, Internships, Volunteer Opportunities
We Can Do will probably never be a comprehensive job-board. Serious job, internship, or volunteer placement hunters will want to explore other means of finding opportunities. For example, jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities in the international field generally, or in the disability field generally, can sometimes be found at www.idealist.org. But I do occasionally happen to come across a job announcement. Here are a few that may still be open to applications:
- Three job posts are available in Luanda, Angola; the deadline for these is December 31, 2007.
- On-line translators for a corporate social responsibility initiative called “Disability Focus”. Contact organization to inquire regarding deadline.
- The United Nations is seeking a Senior Social Affairs Officer, P-5. The application deadline is January 14, 2008.
Education and Training Opportunities
- Leadership training for women with disabilities in South Asia will be available in February 2008.
- Mobility International USA is recruiting men and women with disabilities from Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru for the International Leadership Employment and Disability (I-LEAD) program for 21 days in March 2008 in Eugene, Oregon, USA.
- Study human rights at Central European University, for grassroots activists for human rights involved with a local non-government organization (NGO), or for lawyers with an interest in human rights.
Some of the material I post at We Can Do is time-sensitive material. That means the conferences announced here have come and gone; job posts have been filled; and deadlines are over. So, if it’s too late for you to do anything about any of the following announcements, then why bother listing them? First, some conference organizers issue compilations of papers and presentations or other interesting materials after their event is over. If a topic interests you, it may be worth communicating with event organizers to see if any follow-up publications are available. Second, organizations that offer one conference, job opportunity, call for papers, etc., may offer something similar in the future. Many conferences, for example, meet every one, two, three, or four years. Monitoring, joining, or communicating with organizations of interest to you could help ensure that you learn about the next opportunity in time to plan for it.
Missed Call for Papers
The German Journal for Disability and Development called for papers on art and disabilities to be submitted by the end of November 2007.
In October 2007, the International Labour Organisation had a training course for professionals from developing countries.
Missed Jobs, Internships, and Volunteer Opportunities
Remember that it is too late to apply for these specific opportunities. These are listed here in case you want to check out the sponsoring organizations for future opportunities like these:
- Technical Officer: Disability and Rehabilitation, at the World Health Organization
- Executive Director of the Global Partnership for Disability and Development
- Volunteer Opportunity with VSO in Kenya
- Technical Coordinator in Disability in Bangladesh
- Regional Coordinator, South Asia
- English teacher for deaf adults in Jamaica
- Technical Officer: Injuries, violence prevention, disabilities, and rehabilitation, at the World Health Organization
- The Commonwealth disabled peoples conference in Uganda was held in November 2007. Participants at that conference issued a memorandum asking commonwealth countries to support the international Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
- The International Conference on Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Emergency Situations was held in Germany in November 2007.
- A conference was held by the Community Based Rehabilitation African Network on Inclusive Policy in South Africa in November 2007.
- An international conference on intellectual disabilities and mental retardation was held in Thailand in November 2007.
- The 7th International Seminar on Housing the Poor was held in Thailand in November 2007.
- An on-line forum on the sexual and reproductive health of people with disabilities was held via e-mail in November.
- A national conference on the CRPD was held in India in early December 2007.
- An on-line forum on successful family planning programs held in December 2007; people may also wish to full out a survey on this topic.
- A photo competition on decent work and people with disabilities was held by the International Labour Organization, ending in November 2007.
What’s Next for We Can Do?
I am not yet satisfied with We Can Do. I still see many gaps that I want to repair. I want to find, and post, more materials of a pragmatic nature. By which I mean, material that people in the field can put to immediate use in improving the lives of disabled people in developing countries. If you think you can help me locate helpful materials, please review my Wish list for written materials and resources and contact me.
I also want to reach more development professionals at mainstream development organizations and more employees and volunteers at international disability organizations. And I want to reach more small DPOs and individual advocates in more developing countries. The knowledge shared at We Can Do cannot help until it is brought to people with disabilities living in poverty in developing countries. That “final mile” can only be bridged by readers like YOU.
If you want to help, I hope you will consider telling your colleagues and contacts about We Can Do. If you run a web site or a blog, please consider linking to We Can Do at https://wecando.wordpress.com. If you have the skills, the time, and the commitment to launch a We Can Do mirror site translation into some other language, please talk to me (leave a comment or email me at ashettle [at] patriot.net). And please do feel free to print out the more helpful We Can Do posts to share with people you know in developing countries who do not have easy access to the Internet.
For those of you who like numbers: We Can Do had 285 page views in July; 851 in August; 1305 in September; 2936 in October; 4862 in November; and more than 5100 in the first three weeks of December. And who is responsible for making these numbers happen? Why—you, of course! So, thank you for visiting We Can Do.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
In late November, We Can Do shared the news that Rosangela Berman Bieler, a Brazilian journalist and disability advocate was to receive an International Services Human Rights Award on December 5, 2007. Berman Bieler was unable to make the trip to London, but a friend of hers–Catalina Devandas–received the award on her behalf. Devandas read a statement from Berman Bieler at the awards ceremony. Rosangela has graciously given permission to publish her statement here.
Statement by Rosangela Berman Bieler – International Services Human Rights Award
First of all, I would like to express my deep appreciation to International Services for establishing this Human Rights Award and to including Disability Rights as a relevant area. I humbly thank the IS selection panel and supporters for considering my name amongst such a distinguished group of Human Rights Champions from around the world. It is for me a huge honor to be part of the IS partnership.
This award comes in a unique moment, when Disability rights advocates from all over the planet are working together to give visibility and to maximize the number of nations that ratify the new Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
This twenty-first century’s first human rights treaty was adopted by the United Nations a year ago and opened for signatures on March 30, 2007. To date, 118 nations have indicated support of the treaty and interest in ratification. As of today, 10 nations have ratified (Croatia, Cuba, Gabon, Hungary, India, Spain, Bangladesh, South Africa, Jamaica, and Panama). The treaty becomes legally binding 30 days after the 20th nation ratifies it.
According to the UN, approximately 10 percent of the world’s population has a disability. This translates into over 600 millions disabled people living around the world, being more than 400 million in developing countries. For every disabled person, there are at least three other members of the household indirectly affected by disability. The largest increase in the number of people with disabilities will happen in the age bracket of 65 years or more. And the world population is aging…
Today Disability is understood as the result of the interaction between people with different levels of functioning and an environment that does not take these differences into account. Disability is part of each and every individual’s life cycle. Beyond the typical areas of disability (motor, hearing, visual, and mental/intellectual), persons in general face “disabling” conditions in a society that is unprepared to recognize and respond to human diversity.
People with physical, sensory or mental limitations are often disabled not because of a diagnosable condition, but because they are denied access to education, labor markets, and public services. This exclusion leads to poverty and, in a vicious circle, poverty leads to more disability by increasing people’s vulnerability to malnutrition, disease, and unsafe living and working conditions.
Accordingly to the World Bank, it is expected that the number of people with disabilities will increase by 120%, in the next 30 years in developing countries. The increase is of 40% in more developed countries. It is estimated that 100 million people in the world acquired a disability due to malnutrition.
About 80-90% of disabled people in the Latin-American Region are unemployed or outside the work force. Most of those who have jobs receive little or no monetary remuneration. In my native country, Brazil, the 2000 Census shows that, of the 24.650.000 Brazilians with disability, 27% live in situation of extreme poverty and 53% are poor.
Universal inclusion is not only a human rights issue and a principle for equity, but also an operational strategy to general a better and sustainable society for all. To improve the efficacy of social and economic development actions and to reach all manifestations of human diversity, public policies, from design to implementation, must take all human characteristics and needs into account.
Human Rights are exercised in the mainstream society, in the daily life of each one of us. The means for this full exercise are provided by fair and equitable public policies for all. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a strong and effective instrument to orient and assist governments to implement policies and actions under an inclusive development approach.
The UN Convention recognizes the fundamental importance of getting disabled people ourselves involved in the process of our emancipation and reinforces the concept of “Nothing About Us, Without US”, used by the disability field to claim full participation. Under this premises, together with my peers and supporters of the Disability field, I would like to call all governments to immediately ratify the CRPD and start making the ideal of an inclusive Society, into a reality.
Thank you very much for this opportunity and let’s continue working together for a planet and a society where life is valued, diversity is celebrated and dignity is for all.
Inter-American Institute on Disability & Inclusive Development
Instituto Interamericano sobre Discapacidad y Desarrollo Inclusivo
Instituto Inter-Americano sobre Deficiência & Desenvolvimento Inclusivo
Rosangela Berman Bieler
IIDI Inter-American Office:
27-37 27th Street, #1B,
New York, NY 11102
Tel: 1(347) 738-6472
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Sightsavers Dolphin Pen – For developing countries
What is Sightsavers Dolphin Pen?
The Sightsavers Dolphin Pen is a low-cost, lightweight pen drive with a screen magnifier and screen reader, designed to benefit those living in some of the world’s poorest communities. It enables visually impaired people in Africa and other developing regions to gain the same access to computers as sighted people – and so to develop their skills and employment prospects.
This is an exciting venture because it is the first time a world-ranked assistive technology manufacturer has collaborated with an NGO (non-government organisation) to make high-quality product such as this available at cost price to eligible overseas projects.
Robin Spinks of Sightsavers International says: “Blind and low vision computer users can now carry their assistive software on a pen drive and use it on any PC. This represents a huge step forward for visually impaired computer users in developing countries.”
Users can take magnification and speech with them to any PC.
Easy to use and quick to set up. Simply plug in and go.
Lightweight yet robust. Fits in a pocket.
Gives independence to produce documents, send email and surf the web.
Will be made available in schools and universities wherever possible.
The pen will be available in eligible African countries and in other eligible countries in Asia (both Eastern Asia and Southern Asia); Eastern Europe and Central Asia; and Latin America and the Caribbean.
For more information:
Most of the text for this blog post is taken from the Dolphin Pen web site. We Can Do first learned about the Dolphin Pen through an announcement distributed on the Intl-Dev email news distribution list.
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Mobility International USA (MIUSA) seeks women and men with disabilities from Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua,and Peru to apply for a 21-day leadership exchange program in March 2008, in Eugene, Oregon.
The International Leadership, Employment and Disability (I-LEAD) program will focus on expanding opportunities for employment for people with disabilities in Latin America. We are seeking individuals with leadership experience and potential in these areas. All program activities will include Spanish translation, and substantial scholarships are available.
Thank you for your support and assistance.
Mobility International USA
132 E. Broadway, Suite 343
Eugene, Oregon 97401 USA
Tel/TTY: 1+ (541) 343-1284
Fax: 1+ (541) 343-6812
International Exchange Programs
Mobility International USA
132 E. Broadway, Suite 343
Eugene, Oregon 97401 USA
Tel/TTY: 1+ (541) 343-1284
Fax: 1+ (541) 343-6812
Empowering people with disabilities around the world to achieve their human rights through international exchange and international development.
We Can Do learned about this opportunity via the Intl-Dev email distribution list on international development.
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Brazilian activist awarded with the International Service Human Rights Award
Brazilian journalist, Rosangela Berman Bieler, director of the Interamerican Institute on Disability and Inclusive Development, will be awarded on 5th of December with the International Service Human Rights Award in the category Defense of Human Rights of People with Disabilities. The award ceremony will take place at the House of Commons in London (UK).
Rosangela Berman Bieler has been recognized for her 30-years achievements for the promotion of an inclusive society which promotes and respects the diversity, the inclusion, the equality of opportunities and the independent living for all.
“In the midst of the historical approval of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities”, declared Matthew Snell, Chief Executive of International Service, the British development agency, the award promoter, “we recognize the strategic importance of the disability perspective, associated to the core human rights issues and challenges of the present times”.
For more information, please contact International Service Field Director in Brazil, Luca Sinesi: firstname.lastname@example.org
International Site: www.internationalservice.org.uk
International Service Human Rights Awards
The first International Service human rights awards were held in 2003 as part of International Service 50th anniversary celebrations. Since then the ceremony has become one of the key events in the British overseas development calendar.
We Can Do received this press release via the Intl-Dev email distribution list.
On a personal note, I used to work for Rosangela Berman Bieler as a writer/editor and am both pleased and proud to see her receive this award. And, of course, I am not at all surprised. Congrats, Rosangela!
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[You can reach this post directly with this short URL: http://tinyurl.com/yvhakm]
Every year there are dozens of international disability-related conferences. These conferences allow thousands of participants to network with colleagues around the world, forge partnerships across national and professional boundaries, and enrich their knowledge and understanding of the work they do with disabled people in their home countries.
But every year, there are also thousands of people from developing countries who are cut off from these opportunities because most conferences do not take their financial limitations into account. Usually the easiest expense for conference organizers to control are the registration fees. But many do not even have discounted fees for participants from developing countries. Even those that do usually don’t, or cannot, help reduce the cost of travel or lodging. So where can would be conference-participants from developing countries turn for assistance?
Although limited, a few options may be available to you depending on your country of origin, the location of the conference, the goals of the organization that you represent, or the purpose of your trip. Try exploring one of the following three organizations. (Note that the AJ Muste Memorial Institute and the Inter-American Foundation are primarily for people in the Latin American region. Only the Ford Foundation addresses the needs of people from all or most regions.).
Please note that any requests or applications for funding should be directed to these three organizations, NOT to We Can Do. Leaving a comment here will NOT help you contact these three organizations. Instead, please follow the link to the official web sites for each of the three organizations below.
The Ford Foundation has 12 country offices in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Russia. The country offices have travel grant monies which may be usable for attending international conferences. Go to their contact us page to find and contact a regional office near you. Also try looking at their grants page for more information on applying for Ford Foundation grants in general.
AJ Muste Memorial Institute
The AJ Muste Memorial Institute has a number of different grants for projects that promote nonviolence means for achieving social justice, particularly in areas such as peace and disarmament; social and economic justice; racial and sexual equality; and labor rights.
This includes the NOVA Travel Fund (in Spanish), which makes grants of up to $1,500 to help base-level activists from Latin America and the Caribbean attend regional conferences and meetings. Grant recommendations are made by a committee of advisors representing different regions of Latin America. Their next deadline is October 1, 2008 for trips that would begin after November 15, 2008–but check back at their web site for future deadlines.
Inter-American Foundation (IAF)
The IAF funds the self-help efforts of grassroots groups in Latin America and the Caribbean to improve living conditions of the disadvantaged and the excluded, enhance their capacity for decision-making and self-governance, and develop partnerships with the public sector, business and civil society. The IAF does not identify problems or suggest projects; instead it responds to initiatives presented. Projects are selected for funding on their merits rather than by sector. IMPORTANT: The IAF only supports projects in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The above links to the IAF web site in English, but their web site is also available in Spanish, Portuguese, and Creole:
Also see the web page on IAF’s involvement with Disabled Peoples’ Organizations (DPOs).
Grant requests need to come from organizations, not from individuals. The IAF has supported disability rights activists from Latin America in attending the Ad-Hoc Commitee meetings at the United Nations and also in attending meetings in Panama for the Latin America Decade.
Some of the text in this blog entry is taken from the relevant web sites describing the grant funds in question. Thank you to Diana Samarasan at the Fund for Global Human Rights–Disability Rights Initiative for alerting We Can Do to these funding sources. Anyone who is aware of additional resources relevant to DPOs in developing countries is urged to please let me know. You can leave a comment in the comments area below, or you can email me at ashettle [at] patriot [dot] net.
[Edited 16 January 2008 to correct links to Ford Foundation web site and to add a sentence amplifying that two of these foundations are primarily oriented at the Latin American region. People from other regions will want to look at the Ford Foundation.]
[Edited 19 October 2008 to add a line emphasizing that people interested in applying for any of these opportunities should please contact the relevant organization, NOT We Can Do. In other words, leaving a comment here will NOT help you apply for funding. Instead, please follow the relevant link from the organization you think is most likely to be able to help you. Then read their official web site carefully and apply directly with the relevant organization.]
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English Teacher for Deaf Adults in Jamaica
Job Title: English Teacher for Deaf Adults in Jamaica
Location: Kingston, Jamaica
Salary: $30,000 per year / $2,100 per month
Contract: 2 years, starting December 1, 2007 (or as soon as possible)
1. Current teacher certification
2. Fluency or near-fluency in American Sign Language (ASL)
3. Experience with teaching the Deaf, using bilingual-bicultural methods
4. The ability to work independently, using initiative and resourcefulness in a different cultural environment.
5. Excellent organizational skills and ability to coordinate personnel.
6. The ability to work closely with the teaching staff, assistants and administrative staff
7. Excellent English language (writing) skills.
Brief History: In 2003, Global Deaf Connection (GDC) started a partnership with the Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD) to help enrich JAD’s Deaf education programs. By 2004, GDC and JAD were given support by the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Global Development Alliance (GDA) to initiate the Fast Track college preparatory program. Thirty Deaf adults participated in this intensive two-year program to prepare to take the college entrance exams in October and November 2007. Those who pass the exam will enroll in a four-year teachers’ training college in Jamaica. GDC will provide scholarships and Jamaican Sign language interpreters. The long-term goal is for these Deaf adults to graduate from a teachers’ college and become certified teachers for the Deaf so that the future generation of Deaf children in Jamaica will have qualified teachers who are native signers and role models.
Out of the thirty Deaf adults currently enrolled in the Fast Track program, only sixteen were prepared to take the exams in 2007 with the expectation that five will pass all CXC/GCE level exams and be ready for college entrance in 2008. The remaining twenty-five Deaf adults need additional study to be prepared to pass the exams in 2008 and 2009.
Position description: Global Deaf Connection (GDC) in collaboration with the Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD) is seeking a dynamic professional to fill the position of an English Teacher for the Fast Track Program starting December 1st, 2007. This is a great opportunity for an individual looking for exciting work with the international Deaf community.
Applicants should be a teacher for the Deaf, sign fluently and have a strong fundamentals background to meet the diverse academic needs of Deaf adults as well as developing and sharing new instructional strategies with teachers and administrators.
All applicants should have the desire to live and work in Jamaica and have the ability to work outside of regular business hours.
Applicants should have the skills to be successful in the following areas:
• Programming: Develop and influence relationships to ensure the viability of the Fast Track Program. Oversee program development and sustainability.
• Teaching and curriculum planning: Know exactly what is involved in examination preparation, course content, student resources, layout and timings of examination papers; knowledge of how to apply subject materials and teach specific student groups successfully.
• Monitor student learning: Ability to successfully use Individual Education Plans (IEP’s) and conduct assessments to monitor student progress towards goals.
1. Teach English to a group of 20 Deaf adults (2 classes of 10 students each).
2. Plan and follow curriculum based on books from the national exam in Jamaica.
3. Give students regular assessments to write, follow and update annual IEP’s.
4. Counsel students on English progress and exam preparation.
5. Coordinate the summer Fast Track Program intensive literacy training workshop
6. Submit informal monthly reports to the Program Director at Global Deaf Connection.
Interested applicants should send resume and cover letter to email@example.com. Please call (612) 724-8565/ (541) 687-4170 VP with questions or view the GDC website at www.deafconnection.org.
Due date for resume and cover letter submissions is November 19, 2007
Global Deaf Connection
2901-38th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55406 USA
telephone: 612.724.8565 V/TTY/VP
We Can Do learned of this opportunity partly through the Intl-Dev listserv on international development, and partly from a contact at MIUSA. However, neither We Can Do nor Intl-Dev nor MIUSA are associated with Global Deaf Connection. Interested parties should contact Global Deaf Connection directly by following the instructions in the announcement above.
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Currently, We Can Do gathers news; announcements; academic papers; case studies; opinion pieces; information about resources; and other materials of interest to disabled advocates and international development professionals from a wide range of sources. In addition to these, from time to time, I write fresh content of my own.
I also hope to be able to depend heavily on YOU–We Can Do readers–for some of the best, most interesting, and helpful materials. Examples of materials that would interest me include, but are not limited to: “best practice” case studies; “failed practice” case studies; checklists; fundraising advice or resources; other pragmatic resources; academic papers or reports; student projects; press releases; opinion pieces; announcements; and more. For more detail, please click on “Wish List for Written Materials and Resources” at the top navigation bar.
If you can assist with my current top priority, or with any of the other items in my “wish list”, then PLEASE GET IN TOUCH. Email me at ashettle at patriot dot net or leave a short note in the comment area below and I’ll contact you.
Current Top Priority for We Can Do
Are you from Croatia, Cuba, Gabon, Hungary, India, Jamaica, or Panama? If so, were you involved with the movement to persuade your government to sign and ratify the international Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)? If so PLEASE CONTACT ME (ashettle at patriot dot net, or leave a comment below with your email address).
I want to interview people involved with these movements (via email) so I can write a story describing what strategies you used; any barriers you faced along the way; how you overcame these barriers; any mistakes you made, how you corrected them, and how other countries can avoid them; what activities or techniques you think were the most critical to your success; and so forth. Sharing this type of information at We Can Do–and elsewhere–could be immensely helpful to disability movements in other countries that are working toward the same goals.
My primary written language is English, pero puedo escribir y leer, mas o menos, en espanol tambien. (Lo siento para la mala ortografia–no se como crear acentos en WordPress.) Once we are in contact, I will probably have many questions for you–and follow up questions after that!
Thank you for helping make We Can Do become a strong, good-quality resource for people with disabilities in developing countries and the people who are working hard to meet their needs.
Edited to Add: I do not post my full email address because any recognizable email address posted on the web then immediately becomes the target of “spam harvesters” and starts receiving tons of unwanted, unsolicited commercial emails. But I spelled it out above and spell it out again here. But this time I’m amplifying it because I realize that not all people have learned how to parse spelled out email addresses:
My username is: ashettle
Every email address has an @ at sign @ between the user name and the domain name, thus ashettle@
My email domain is patriot.net
Put it all together and you have my email address.
Or if that is still too confusing–or if it’s just easier for you–then feel free to leave a note below (with your email address in the area provided for it) and I’ll get in touch.
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For many parents of disabled children, their own child may be the first person they have ever met who has a disability. Any of us may feel frightened when we are first exposed to something unfamiliar simply because we cannot be sure what to expect. It can be even more frightening when the unfamiliar affects your own child–especially if you had always assumed until then that disabled people necessarily lead tragic lives of deprivation and suffering.
Support groups and networks can be invaluable in helping reassure families that a happy and fulfilled life is still possible after a diagnosis. It may be a very different life, with a very different daily routine than they had planned upon when starting their family. But it can be just as rewarding.
But what if the affected child has a rare disability–so rare that your child might be the only person with that disability in your entire city? Even if your city has as many as 100 to 300 thousand people? And what if you are also in a developing nation where resources of any kind for people with disabilities are rare and hard to find? Such is the case for families of people with Rubinstein Taybi syndrome.
Rubinstein Taybi syndrome generally involves some degree of cognitive impairment and an assortment of medical problems that might include feeding problems, respiratory infections, ear and eye infections, cataracts or glaucoma, and heart problems.
One American organization for families of people with Rubinstein Taybi syndrome has established a web site that has links to similar organizations around the world. Not surprisingly, most of these organizations are in high-income countries, particularly in Europe. However the web site indicates that sometimes smaller, more informal support networks may still exist in some countries even if there is no official organization there. It is also possible for family members to join a mailing list (via email) that currently has 180 members from two dozen different countries.
The full list of organizations, and instructions for joining the email discussion group, can be consulted at:
Official organizations appear to exist–or at least have web sites in–only two middle-income countries and no low-income countries.
The Argentina page (in Spanish) can be found at:
The Brazil page (in Portuguese) can be found at:
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