RESOURCE: Finding Disability-Related Laws and Policies

Posted on 15 January 2008. Filed under: Cross-Disability, Policy & Legislation, Resources | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

[Original publication at (We Can Do) at]

Sometimes it is not “impairments” that disable people, but our environment. And sometimes we are disabled most when law, policy, judicial precedents, or regulations remain silent while others discriminate against disabled people. Or worse, some policies may actively strip away the rights of people with disabilities.

Legislators, policy makers, policy analysts, lawyers, human rights specialists, and grassroots disability advocates may need to work together to remove barriers created by law or policy. But to do so, they must first understand what their law says. And before they can create better laws for their country, they may wish to understand what other, similar laws in other countries already say. Or they may find it helpful to review other legal literature and documents from around the world. Several resources are available that can help advocates and policy makers find the materials they are looking for.

Disabilities Rights and Education Defense Fund (DREDF)
The Disability Rights and Education Defense Fund (DREDF) website has links to many international resources on international laws and international conventions. Go to

DREDF’s Country Law Index
Of particular interest for people who wish to compare national laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities is DREDF’s country law index. Users will want to note that this listing of national laws is not comprehensive. The entry for the United States, for example, lists the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but does not mention several other important US federal laws such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). But the country law index can be a good starting point. At

Global Legal Information Network
Researchers and advocates may also wish to try a search at the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN). GLIN is a public database of official texts of laws, regulations, judicial decisions, and other legal sources contributed by governmental agencies and international organizations. Texts are submitted in the original language, usually with a summary in English. Try a key word search for laws related to people with disabilities. A few hundred options turn up for words such as “disabilities,” “disabled,” or “discapacidad” (Spanish for “disability”). Try other synonyms or translations, too. Click on “More Search Options” to narrow down your search by country, or to narrow down your search to laws, judicial decisions, legislative records, or legal literature.

At FindLaw, you can find a range of articles, news, commentaries, and case summaries related to legal issues in countries all around the world. Search by country, or try a key word search. This is not a disability-specific resource, though some of the materials at this site may be relevant.

Have I missed any key, international law-related resources? Please let me know via the comments area below.

Thank you to Stephanie Gray at Mobility International USA (MIUSA) for helping alert me to the resources at DREDF. I found the other web sites listed here by browsing the DREDF website and subsequent links.

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