Our expert team is here to answer your questions about disability rights implementation and strategies

Ask an expert

The Expert Team

Our team of experts includes representatives from a consortium of U.S.-based organizations that work in the international arena on disability rights advancement. Each organization offers unique expertise on a range of topics:

  • Mobility International USA offers expertise in inclusive international development, leadership training for disability activists, and empowerment of women with disabilities
  • Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund offers expertise in disability civil rights law and policy, eliminating disability-based discrimination, policy monitoring, legal advocacy, legislative development, and litigation
  • International Foundation for Electoral Systems offers expertise in political participation by disabled citizens, inclusive election management, legislative analysis, democracy building, and voter rights
  • U.S. International Council on Disabilities offers expertise in grassroots education of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), lobbying on national disability issues, and coalition building

This unique team also offers an expansive network of vital organizations around the world that are working to advance disability access, inclusion, and rights. Our team will call upon this network to connect you with the most pertinent resources and knowledgeable expert to answer your questions.

These services are available at no cost to you, with sponsorship by the U.S. Department of State.

Types of Questions We Answer

We are only able to answer requests from people located in Armenia, Guatemala, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, and Vietnam. We hope to be able to expand this service to other parts of the world in the future. Wherever you are located we hope you find the resources on this website helpful.

Whether you are a new advocate or an experienced policy maker, we will answer your disability related questions! List below are some of the topics on which we can provide information:

  1. Alternatives to institutionalization and strategies for active community participation
  2. Education practices that are inclusive of people with disabilities
  3. Employment / labor practices that are inclusive of people with disabilities
  4. Violence prevention and response programming to include women with disabilities
  5. Accessible technology, communication, and trainings
  6. Physical accessibility of built infrastructure and environments
  7. Law and policy resources on and related to disability rights
  8. Empowerment of women with disabilities
  9. Advocacy for indigenous people with disabilities

Question: My country has a disability rights law but it's not implemented. How can I help get this law enforced?

Answer: Disability rights laws will not be effective without specific implementing regulations and time tables.
 At this point, many countries around the world have laws on the books that ban discrimination or protect the rights of people with disabilities. However, very few countries have laws that are being implemented, and one of the common reasons is the absence of practical and enforceable implementation details.

The law can use grand language to declare that people with disabilities will no longer be discriminated against and will be provided equal rights, but tools for implementation such as federal, state or local regulations, enforceable standards, and forums to address disputes must show how to get from a barrier-filled world to the ideal of the law.

Additionally, specific timelines need to be set for when modifications need to be completed or when new buildings need to become accessible. Having very specific regulations and timelines on everything from the width of a doorway, to web accessibility, sidewalks and other infrastructure, makes compliance with the law very measurable.

This information is excerpted from our Principle on Specific Regulations page, which also includes examples. You can also visit our Standards Behind the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA) page to learn how the U.S. is achieving access through the standardization of accessibility guidelines

Question: There is very little physical access in my community to public places like schools, transportation, and even sidewalks. What has worked in other countries to increase accessibility?

Answer: The Impact section of this website features strategies from around the world that have had real impact on the advancement of the rights of people with disabilities, including strategies for enhancing physical access.

From the Impact page, you can explore strategies by topic using a key word filter. Select 'physical accessibility' in the filter and you will find strategies only related to physical access.

For example, you can read how an accessibility task force in Vietnam gained support of the government to add accessible buses to the city's fleet and how a disability Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Armenia was able to make the construction of 50 ramps in public spaces a reality.

Question: How do I convince officials in my region that rights as a person with a disability are important and beneficial to society?

 Answer: High-level law and policy makers and people of influence can act as critical champions for your advocacy efforts.

Whether a country is democratic or socialist, has a monarch, or is a federal republic, as long as there is some acknowledgement of the rule of law and a system of government representatives who create and administer those laws, it is important to have allies among those government representatives who understand disability rights.

Disability can be experienced in many ways and it transcends any political party, race, gender, and economic class. An individual can be born with a disability, acquire one through an accident or chronic condition, have a child or family member with a disability, age into a disability, or marry someone who is connected to disability in this way.

Finding influential leaders who have experienced disability to be your champion is key. These are individuals who:

  • Will have experience with, or at least be open to learning about, the multiple kinds of discrimination and barriers experienced by people with disabilities.
  • Will be able to personally express the goals of disability rights laws and the reasons that laws are needed when they speak to their colleagues, and will be able to connect other disability rights leaders with important political and social forums.
  • Will have trained legal staff that can assist with the actual development of bill language, and alert a disability coalition about opportunities and risks as a proposed bill advances toward becoming a law.
  • If the government representative has disabilities him or herself, they also help fight a major stereotype that people with disabilities have limited capabilities and future prospects.

 This information is excerpted from our Principle on Champions for Your Cause page, which also includes examples. You can also visit our Communicating with Elected Officials page for tips and guidelines to effectively convey your message.

Question: I am new to disability advocacy and want to learn about my country's commitment and policies related to disability. Since there are so many resources out there to navigate, where do you suggest I get started in my research?

Answer: People with disabilities and their allies must be knowledgeable about the law. A common problem in many countries is that people with disabilities themselves are not aware of the rights they have, and do not know how to file a complaint or to let the authorities know when their own laws are not being enforced. 

A society must have large numbers of people with disabilities and their allies who understand and take responsibility for their own laws, and are ready to use whatever means they have to let authorities know when disability rights laws are not being implemented. The cross-disability community must continue acting until the laws are finally being enforced.

This website aims to eliminate barriers and reduce gaps of information by collecting and organizing laws and policies on or related to disability in our focus counties, which are listed in the top menu. From The Law page, you can explore laws by country, theme or topic, scope, and more, using a key word filter. For example, you can find: 

  • Reports and documents related to the operation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in each country 
  • National laws entirely focused on disability and others on different main topics, such as health or elections procedure, that have specific references concerning people with disabilities
  • State laws on disability
  • Disability policies, training manuals, reports, and related materials created and/or distributed by government agencies, Disabled Persons' Organizations (DPOs), International NGOs, or other official bodies

Privacy

Personal information is used exclusively to respond to your request. We do not make this information available to mailing lists or advertisers. Your question may be used in other sections of this website, without identifying information.

Ask an Expert

By filling out the below form, your question will be emailed directly to our expert team. Responses may take up to two weeks. If your request is time-sensitive, please indicate that and we will do our best to reply as soon as possible.

Feedback on our website resources