Employment: The Autism Advantage

3 04 2015

It is estimated that Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) affect 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boy and that for unknown reasons ASD prevalence figures are growing. This year World Autism Awareness day theme is “Employment: the Autism Advantage”. Here is a short article I wrote for this important day . I hope that you’ll find it helpful and relevant.

The World Future Council is looking for a Policy Officer – Persons with Disabilities

6 06 2013

This time I wish to publish a  job offer by the World Future Council (WFC). The WFC is a global forum of 50 respected personalities who give voice to the shared ethical values of citizens worldwide. The Council works closely with policy-makers, civil society and business to identify and implement best policies to protect the rights of future generations (http://www.worldfuturecouncil.org). Good luck!





The World Future Council is looking for a

Policy Officer – Persons with Disabilities


Starting date: 1st September 2013

Period: 12 months, with possible prolongation

Location: Geneva, Switzerland


  • Liaise with the Zero Project overall coordinator, the Essl Foundation, as well as project partners: the European Foundation Centre
  • Research innovative policies advancing the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • Co-author the annual Zero Project Report
  • Co-organize the annual Zero Project Conferences in Vienna
  • Present the Zero Project in briefings, side events and conferences  to stakeholders (especially in Geneva, New York, Vienna)
  • Develop the Zero Project network, especially with parliamentarians with disabilities
  • Contribute to the Zero Project’s website: www.zeroproject.org and social media presence:www.facebook.com/zeroproject.org
  • Develop and maintain the WFC’s Zero Project online presence: www.worldfuturecouncil.org/enable.html as well aswww.futurepolicy.org,
  • Support media, fundraising activities and research for cooperation
  • ·         Monitor and assess project progress
    • Report to the Supervisor



  •   Academic background, preferably in human rights/disability law and policy, international relations or political sciences
  • Working experience in a Disabled Peoples Organisation, direct experience of disability or with persons with disabilities is an asset
  • Outgoing and reliable personality with a ‘can-do’ attitude
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Very good knowledge of research, editorial work as well as event management
  • Excellent knowledge of German, English and of a further UN language, preferably French
  • Very good IT literacy. Knowledge of CMS (especially WordPress and Typo3) is an asset
  • Committed to the WFC’s vision and mission of long-term sustainability and equity
  • Ability to work both independently and as part of an international team
  • A Swiss/EU work permit is required

Please address your application to the WFC Coordinator of the Geneva Office: Ms Ingrid Heindorf. Please send a cover letter, CV and published writing sample, as well as your salary expectations, to Ingrid.heindorf@worldfuturecouncil.org. Subject heading: Policy Officer and your name. Deadline: 14 June 2013. Only candidates invited for interview will be contacted. Interviews will be held on 25th June 2013.


News about the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

1 03 2013

The United Nations Enable Newsletter is prepared by the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (DSPD/DESA) with input from UN offices, agencies, funds and programmes, as well as from civil society organizations, including organizations of persons with disabilities. I hope that you will find it interesting and helpful.

High-level Meeting on disability and development (23 September 2013)
The High-level meeting of the General Assembly on disability and development (HLMDD:http://www.un.org/hlmdd2013) is expected to take place at the level of the Heads of States on 23 September, this year. Prior to the meeting, a draft text of the outcome document will be produced by the President of the General Assembly in consultation with Member States, along with input from organizations of persons with disabilities and other relevant stakeholders, through online discussions and informal consultations. Toward this end, DESA, in partnership with UNICEF will conduct online consultations under the existing platform of the World We Want 2015 from 8-28 March. (http://www.worldwewant2015.org)

Commission for Social Development concludes its session
The 51st session of the Commission for Social Development (CSOCD) met in New York from 6 to 15 February under the theme: “Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all”. Two reports were presented to the Commission at this sessions: “Report of the Secretary General on Mainstreaming Disability in the Development Agenda” (E/CN.5/2013/9) and “Report of the Special Rapporteur to the 51st Session of the Commission for Social Development: Monitoring of the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities” (E/CN.5/2013/10). The Special Rapporteur on Disability, Shuaib Chalklen, also presented his statement to the Commission. (http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?navid=48&pid=38)

Panel discussion on a post-2015 development framework
A panel discussion was organized by DESA in collaboration with the UN Regional Commissions on 12 February, as a side-event to the above session of the Commission. The event entitled: “Toward a disability-inclusive post-2015 development framework: Regional perspectives” was organized with a view to generate input to the outcome document for the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on disability and development to be held on 23 September, this year. Focusing on the role of UN Regional Commissions, the discussion highlighted current efforts to integrate existing international instruments on disability in regional and national policies and frameworks on development. (http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?navid=48&pid=38)

New Enable webpage on Indigenous persons with disabilities
DESA has prepared a new web page to draw attention to issues related to indigenous persons with disabilities. While no global data exists regarding indigenous persons with disabilities, available statistics show that indigenous peoples are disproportionately likely to experience disability in comparison to the general population. Indigenous persons with disabilities often experience multiple discrimination and face barriers based on their indigenous status, as well as their disability. The international community has also recognized that special measures are required to protect the rights of the world’s indigenous peoples. This web page will continue to develop as a hub of news, resources and links related to indigenous persons with disabilities. (http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=1605)

My World: The United Nations global survey
Make the voices of persons with disabilities heard… LOUD!
Vote for the changes that would make the most difference to your world! MY World is a United Nations global survey asking you to choose your priorities for a better world. There are 16 priority areas in the survey, plus one more for you to decide, which can be made disability-specific. For example: Freedom to make my own decisions; Being included in the community by removing architectural and attitudinal barriers; Including persons with disabilities in all development plans, programs and activities. You decide! Forward, translate and send this around the world!Results will be shared with world leaders in setting the next global development agenda. Tell them about the world you want, because your voice matters!
Vote at: http://enable.myworld2015.org

HRC – Work and employment of persons with disabilities
The fifth interactive debate of the Human Rights Council (HRC) on the rights of persons with disabilities will take place on Wednesday, 6 March 2013 in Geneva, focusing on the issue of work and employment of persons with disabilities. The debate will bring together experts in the field of promoting employment opportunities for persons with disabilities, including: representatives of a organization of persons with disabilities (DPO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the private sector, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and a social entrepreneur. Presentations by panelists will be followed by an interactive discussion among Human Rights Council Member States and observers. The debate will seek to identify good practices in promoting employment opportunities for persons with disabilities in both public- and private-sector workplaces. It will also contribute to raising awareness of the challenges that persons with disabilities continue to face in employment, and to highlight the measures that States and employers can take with a view to ensuring that persons with disabilities enjoy access to, retention of and advancement in employment on an equal basis with others. The panel and its web cast will be made accessible to persons with disabilities through real time captioning and sign language interpretation. (http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disability/Pages/Workandemploymentofpersonswithdisabilities.aspx). As requested by the HRC, OHCHR has also prepared a thematic study on the work and employment of persons with disabilities (A/HRC/22/25). (http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disability/Pages/ThematicStudies.aspx)

HRC – Side-event on Inclusive Education
As a side-event to the 22nd session of the HRC, UNICEF and the Permanent Missions of Finland and Spain will co-organize a side-event titled: Inclusive Education for Children with Disabilities: Examples from Central and Eastern Europe and the CIS region, on 1 March, in Geneva, Switzerland. Speakers include: H. E. Mr. Zarko Obradovic, Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development of Serbia; H. E. Mr. Pance Kralev, Minister of Education and Science of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; H. E. Ms. Vesna Vucurovic, Deputy Minister of Education and Sports of Montenegro; Ms. Yoka Brandt, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director; and Mr. J Patrick Clarke, Chief Executive Officer of Down Syndrome Ireland, representing the International Disability Alliance.

OHCHR – General Discussion on women and girls with disabilities
The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will hold a half Day of General Discussion on Women and Girls with Disabilities on Wednesday, 17 April 2013. Women and girls with disabilities experience multiple forms of discrimination, which hinder their meaningful participation on an equal basis with others in all spheres of life. The Committee has invited persons with disabilities and their representative organizations to submit their inputs to the Committee. (http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRPD/Pages/CRPDIndex.aspx)

WHO – JPMH Mental health and human rights: Call for papers
The Journal of Public Mental Health (JPMH) announces a call for papers for a special issue on mental health and human rights, to be published in 2013. Accepted contributions include original research papers, systematic reviews, policy analyses and case studies. In 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse launched the QualityRights (QR) Project, which aims to improve the quality and human rights conditions in mental health and social care facilities and empower civil society organizations to advocate for the rights of people with mental and psychosocial disabilities. This call for papers aims to inform the core objectives of QualityRights. JPMH hopes to attract papers from academics, practitioners and activists in resource-scarce countries. Papers submitted for this special edition should be marked with “QualityRights” in the title. The manuscript selection process will follow the Journal’s peer-review procedures. Submit articles to http://emeraldinsight.com/products/journals/journals.htm?id=jpmh before 1 June 2013.  Informal enquiries to: Leeknifton@gmail.com. Information on WHO’s QualityRights Toolkit is available at: http://www.who.int/mental_health/publications/QualityRights_toolkit/en/index.html.

World Bank – Disability & Development training course
The World Bank’s core course on Disability & Development aims to provide participants with an in-depth understanding of the conceptual and practical issues involved in the development and implementation of inclusive economic and social policies that are relevant for persons with disabilities. The course aims to help increase knowledge on disability, its social and economic relevance and development policies and programs responsive to the needs of persons with disabilities; increase understanding of the main issues involved in the process of including disability into development to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal access to all mainstream policies and services and to eliminate “disability disadvantage”. Deadline for registration: Friday, 1 March 2013. (https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/disability2013http://www.worldbank.org/disability/corecourse)

(Send us information on major international disability events for possible inclusion in the list below)

27 February to 1 March: Seminar on Indigenous peoples
The “International Expert Seminar on Access to Justice for Indigenous Peoples including Truth and Reconciliation processes” held at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University, New York, will contribute to the work of the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Agenda Item 12 of the seminar covers: “Indigenous Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities and Access to Justice”. (http://hrcolumbia.org/indigenous/seminar)

11 March: ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival at UN HQ
The Permanent Mission of Sweden will sponsor the screening of the film: “The Importance of Tying Your Own Shoes” at UN Headquarters in New York. Film synopsis: When Alex gets a job as the leader of a local theater group for persons with disabilities, his outlook on life begins to change. Through the theater group’s work, Alex comes to appreciate that every person has his or own talents, which can grow if given the opportunity and support. (Lena Koppel / 100 min.) The event is being organized by ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival, the UN Department of Public Information (UNDPI) and DESA.  (http://www.un.org/disabilities/documents/idpd/reelabilities_11march2013_un.doc)

4 to 15 March: Commission on the Status of Women, 55th session
The fifty-seventh session of the Commission on the Status of Women will take place at UN Headquarters under the priority theme: “Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.” The review theme chosen is “the equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS (agreed conclusions from the fifty-third session). (http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/57sess.htm)

21 March: World Down Syndrome Day
In 2011, the General Assembly declared 21 March as World Down Syndrome Day (A/RES/66/149). This year at the United Nations the World Down Syndrome Conference 2013 will be organized at UN Headquarters in New York on 21 March, under the theme “The Right to Work”. This year’s Conference will focus on the rights of persons with Down syndrome to work in open, inclusive and accessible environments. It will help raise awareness on the importance of promoting early development and education, proper medical care, and providing for independent living in communities. The multi-stakeholder event will be organized in collaboration with Down Syndrome International, the Missions of Australia, Brazil, Poland, India, DESA and other partners. (http://www.un.org/en/events/downsyndromeday;  http://www.worlddownsyndromeday.org)

2 April: World Autism Awareness Day
The United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared 2 April as World Autism Awareness Day (A/RES/62/139) to highlight the need to help improve the lives of children and adults who suffer from the disorder so they can lead full and meaningful lives. (http://www.un.org/en/events/autismday/)

17 April: General Discussion on women and girls with disabilities
The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will hold a half Day of General Discussion on Women and Girls with Disabilities. (see OHCHR above)

29 to 30 April: 29th Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity
The theme for the 29th Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity: “Being in Community”, embraces the ideals of all people living together harmoniously and happily in a barrier-free world without fear of exclusion from social, economic or political life. (http://www.pacrim.hawaii.edu)

20 to 31 May: 12th session, Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
The session will be held at UN Headquarters, New York and include a review year of the Forum. (http://social.un.org/index/IndigenousPeoples/UNPFIISessions/Twelfth.aspx)

6 to 7 June: M-Enabling Summit 2013
The second M-Enabling Summit 2013: Global Summit on Accessible Mobile Technology for Senior Citizens and Users of All Abilities is organized by the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs (G3ict) and E.J. Krause and Associates (EJK) in cooperation with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), ensuring substantial participation for leading international mobile service providers, policy makers, apps developers and manufacturers. (http://www.m-enabling.com)

27 to 28 June: Symposium on Disability, Technology and Rehabilitation in Low and Middle Income Countries
The Symposium to be held at the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, will focus on improving and increasing access to technology and rehabilitation products and services with the goal of ensuring full inclusion and participation for persons with disabilities in low-resourced communities in low and middle income countries.  The keynote speaker will be Chapal Khasnabis, Disability and Rehabilitation Team, World Health Organization. (http://idtr.uwctds.washington.edu/workshops/2013)

2 to 3 July: Include 2013: Global Challenges and Local Solutions in Inclusive Design
The event will be organised by the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Hong Kong Design Centre and the School of Design at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. (www.hhc.rca.ac.uk/4989/all/1/include-2013.aspx)

2 to 13 September: 10th session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
(Details forthcoming)

9 to 11 September: 6th International Urban Design Conference
The Conference will be held at the Novotel Sydney Olympic Park.  The conference “UrbanAgiNation” urbanisation | agitation | imagination will examine the future Density and Infrastructure requirements in cities. The call for abstracts is now open. (http://urbandesignaustralia.com.au)

23 September: High-level meeting on disability and development
(See item above).

16 to 18 October: 2nd International Conference of the WFD
The 2nd Conference of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) will be held in Sydney, Australia under the theme: “Equality for Deaf People”. (www.wfdsydney2013.com)

3 December: International Day of Persons with Disabilities
The details and theme for 2013 are forthcoming.

(DISCLAIMER: The information below is provided by civil society organizations and others for informational purposes only. This does not constitute endorsement of, or an approval by, the United Nations of any of the products, services, or opinions of the organization or individual. The United Nations bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of their statements and opinions.)

New “COMPASS” on Human Rights Education
The Council of Europe’s Human Rights Education Manual “COMPASS”, a new, revised version now includes “Disability and Disablism” as a theme, as well as a 10-page background text on the topic produced through a multi-stakeholder partnership of the CoE, UN, European Disability Forum, IFHOHYP and other DPOs. COMPASS also includes training activities on disability and disability rights. (http://eycb.coe.int/compass/download_en.html)

Ibero-American Year for Workplace Inclusion of Persons with Disability
The XXII Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Governments held in Cadiz in November 2013 agreed to declare the year 2013 as the “Ibero-American Year for Workplace Inclusion of Persons with Disability”. This idea first came from an agreement initially signed by the Vice-presidency of Ecuador, the Employment Ministers Iberoamerica, the Ibero-American Secretariat (SEGIB) and the Ibero-American Social Security Organization (OISS). To support their proposal to the Ibero-American Summit, SEGIB and OISS presented the results of a study, which described the situation of persons with disability in Iberoamerica and the barriers they face to access the labour market (http://segib.org/es/node/4788http://segib.org/cumbres/files/2012/03/11-COMESP-INCLUSION-DISCAPACIDAD-ESP.pdf)

Funding opportunities for disability policy scholars  
The Center for Studying Disability Policy (CSDP), through the Disability Research Consortium (DRC) and the Social Security Administration (SSA), is funding disability policy scholars.  Applications are being accepted for three grants that offer funding opportunities for graduate students and new researchers conducting disability policy research, under the Disability Policy Research Summer Scholars Program, the Disability Policy Research Dissertation Scholars Program, and the Disability Policy Research Emerging Investigator Award Program. Deadline: 8 March 2013. (http://www.disabilitypolicyresearch.org/DRC/DRC_grants.asp)

Inclusion International Launches Global Report on Article 19
Inclusion International launched a new global report entitled: “Inclusive Communities = Stronger Communities”. The report confirms that most adults with intellectual disabilities live at home and do not have the support they need to live and be included in their communities. It reveals that families are the major source of support. The report highlights that transforming communities to be inclusive and ensuring that people with disabilities are included in mainstream programmes are essential for securing the rights of people with intellectual disabilities. (http://www.inclusion-international.org)

Strengthening the voices of the users and survivors of psychiatry
WNUSP, an international representative network of the voices of users and survivors of psychiatry, is working to ensure that the views and opinions of all users and survivors of psychiatry around the world are respected and upheld. Find out more about its new project “Strengthen Our Voices!” (http://www.wnusp.net)

LCD New publication on inclusive education
Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD) has recently published “Inclusive Education – An Introduction”. Every child in the world has a right to education. However, children with disabilities are still disproportionately excluded from school. In an inclusive school, disabled children do not study in separate classes; all children learn together in the same classroom using materials appropriate to their various needs. This publication explores LCD’s approach to inclusive education and highlights their projects in Africa and Asia that support children with disabilities to get the education that they, and all children, deserve. (http://www.lcint.org/?lid=5136)

A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities
Women with disabilities often discover that the social stigma of disability and inadequate care are greater barriers to health than the disability, itself. This Handbook, developed with the help and experience of women with disabilities in 42 countries, can help women with disabilities overcome barriers, improve their general health, self-esteem and ability to care for themselves, as well as increase their participation in their communities.

DPI convenes meeting on youth with disabilities in India
Disabled People’s International (DPI), India, organized a 2-day National Convention for Youth with Disabilities on 7 to 8 February in New Delhi. Around 50 young students with disabilities from the top colleges and universities, including engineering, medical, law, media and design institutes, participated in this first-ever initiative. The objective of the event was to reach out to young people with disabilities and inspire the next generation leaders of, not just the Indian disability sector, but also those who would be agents of change in other fields. The Convention was inaugurated by the Government Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment. DPI has also launched its new website. (www.dpi.org)


Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD)
Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)
S-2906, United Nations, New York, NY 10017, USA.
Website: www.un.org/disabilities
Email: enable@un.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/United-Nations-Enable/196545623691523
Twitter: http://twitter.com/UN_Enable

Autism with Louis Theroux

20 11 2012

The amazing broadcaster, Louis Theroux, travels to America to introduce several families in which one or more children has Autism, and how the family deals with this. Visiting schools (such as DLC Warren in New Jersey, one of the most innovative autism schools of its kind) were the ratio student/teacher is 1 on 2, Louis looks how autism influences the kids and the problems it gives.

Theroux meets Joey, whose mother Carol is finding it increasingly hard to cope with some of the more challenging aspects of his disorder. In between the ever more explosive tantrums, Louis discovers a cheeky and charming 13-year-old, but there are tough decisions ahead about his future in the family home.

Nicky is 19. After making good progress at DLC Warren he is about to leave, but the prospect of change leads to increasing anxiety and erratic behaviour. Surrounded by a loving family who say they wouldn’t have him any other way, he shows Louis his novel Dragonula and invites him to share his first day at his new school.

Twenty-year-old Brian is severely autistic and his behaviour – setting fire to the house and attacking his mother – has led to the difficult decision of placing him in residential care. Louis meets a mother whose love for her son has been tested to its limits and finds out how the school is preparing him for an adult life.

Highly recommended!

To see the full episode click HERE

The Israeli Government has Ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities!

15 09 2012

Below please find the Statement and the speech of the Israeli commissioner at the UN headquarters.

Israel Ministry of Justice

Spokesperson’s Office

Sept. 11, 2012


The Israeli Government has Ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The CRPD (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) was ratified by the Israeli Government on September 10th, 2012. The State of Israel signed the Convention in March 2007, and has now joined the majority of countries worldwide who have already ratified it. The Convention was ratified after an assessment was carried out to determine the compatibility of Israeli legislation with the requirements of the Convention. This assessment was carried out cooperatively by the Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and two other units at the Ministry of Justice: the Department for International Agreements, and the Counseling and Legislation Department.

The ratification of the Convention will influence the daily lives of some 1.6 million people with disabilities in Israel, their rights, and the policies of the relevant Government Ministries.

The Convention sets standards for equality, full participation, inclusion and integration into society, provision of accommodations, and autonomous decision making by the people themselves. Under the CRPD, these standards apply to the various areas of life: Education, community living, health and rehabilitation, accessibility, recognition of legal capacity, family and parenthood, access to justice, employment and more.

The CRPD was adopted on December 13th, 2006 at the United Nations Headquarters, following four years of intensive work by delegations from various countries, Disabled Peoples’ Organizations, and human rights activists. The Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Counseling and Legislation Department, the Foreign Ministry and the NGO “Bizchut” were involved in drafting the Convention and formulating the principles it includes. These are, among others, the right of every person to live in the community, the right to accessibility in general and to the legal system in particular, and the right to employment.

After all obstacles were removed, the Convention was ratified, and an Israeli delegation, headed by Mr. Ahiya Kamara, Commissioner for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities, will participate in the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD.

To the translation of the CRPD into Hebrew:


The Minister of Justice, Yaakov Neeman: “The ratification of the CRPD is a very important step indicating the centrality of people with disabilities within the priorities of the State of Israel. The Government of Israel and the Ministry of Justice in particular, are constantly working to achieve their full inclusion in the society of the State of Israel.”

Dr. Guy Rotkopf, Director General of the Ministry of Justice: “The ratification of the Convention shows the commitment of the State of Israel to work practically towards equality, inclusion and full participation of people with disabilities in Israeli society. The ratification of the Convention continues the endeavors of the Government of Israel in recent years to place the issue of people with disabilities at the head of the public agenda and to promote policies to ensure their full inclusion in all areas of life”.

Ahiya Kamara, Commissioner for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the Ministry of Justice: “The ratification of the CRPD is a meaningful step, in which Israel enters the respectable family of countries which have ratified the CRPD and are working to promote the rights and quality of life of people with disabilities. Israel has advanced legislation concerning the rights of people with disabilities, but faces the challenge of implementing it in practice. Ourtest as a society will be to make the vision of full inclusion of people with disabilities a reality”.

AND, here is the speech of the Israeli commissioner:

Statement for the Opening of the Fifth Conference of State Parties

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


By Ahiya Kamara

Israel Commissioner for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Ministry of Justice


14 September 2012

UN Headquarters, New York


Thank you Mr. Chairman,

I am delighted to announce that this week the Israeli government finally approved the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, marking the end of a lengthy process of discussions with all government offices, and the start of a new phase in the lives of people with disabilities in Israel. The process was long, because our legal system requires that our laws be fully compatible with the Convention before ratification.

The ratification signifies another milestone in the gradual advancement of disability rights agenda in Israel throughout the last decade, which started with the Israeli Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities Law enacted in 1998. The law put in place a “human rights” approach to disability, in addition to the “welfare” approach that underlies most of the extensive Israeli disability legislation. Together, they were intended to enable people with disabilities to achieve a better life and fuller social inclusion. The welfare legislation provides disabled people with an umbrella of eligibilities and services and the Equal Rights Law aims to prevent discrimination in all areas specifically in employment and mandates accessibility to all public buildings and services.

Yesterday in a side event we presented another example of an innovative Israeli law which requires specific procedural accommodations for interreges and witnesses with disabilities. In one recent case, for example a mentally disabled girl gave assisted testimony against a bus driver who sexually abused her. As a result, the abuser was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. This law can give a voice to people, and especially vulnerable women and children with disability who might otherwise be silenced, and provide them with access to justice.

Although we are progressing, our statistical data on the situation of disabled people in Israel shows that an elaborated legal system is not enough, and  much more needs to be done to promote the ideals set forth in the CRPD. Stigma and barriers still prevail, inequality of education levels and employment opportunities still exist, community living must be further developed, and legal capacity sought.

We foresee our specific commission for equal rights of persons with disabilities becoming the focal point for implementing the CRPD in Israel. The commission, which I head, was established to implement the Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities Law. Today we focus on implementing accessibility regulations by enforcement and education, providing legal assistance, promoting inclusive policies etc. To advance the implementation of the CRPD, we plan to build upon our wide partnership with government as well as civil society organizations to this common goal.

Mr. Chairman,

We look forward to continuing the process of advancing equal human rights for people with disabilities in Israel. In doing so we are inspired by Moses, a person with disability with a stutter, one of the greatest leaders in history who managed to lead the nation of Israel from slavery to freedom. We strive for a world in which all people with disability, will, like Moses, be able to realize their full human and leadership potential for the benefit of society.

Thank you for your attention.

Translation: Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

A methodology to assess real world hiring behaviors toward people with disabilities

6 05 2012

As you probably know by now, the topic of employment of people with disabilities, and most specifically the impact of employers attitudes and behaviors toward people with disability has been the focus of my field work in the past few years . Nowadays, when I am trying to plan some research directions (in light of the fact that my PhD was approved..) I want to present a paper that my colleagues and I published a couple of years ago. What do you think about this methodology? would you use it as a method to assess real world hiring behaviors of people with a psychiatric disabilities or other disabilities?

Here is the abstract of the paper:

Using Situation Testing to Document Employment Discrimination Against Persons with Psychiatric Disabilities

Amir Tal, Galia Moran, Dan-Olof Rooth, and Marc Bendick, Jr.

Many individuals with psychiatric disabilities are unemployed or under-employed, with detrimental consequences for their lives and mental health. Although prior research suggests that stigmatization and discrimination contribute to this outcome, the exact extent of such employer behavior has remained largely undetermined. This article reviews the employment situation of persons with psychiatric disabilities, considers traditional ways to analyze the role of discrimination, and proposes situation testing as a new methodology overcoming many limitations of prior research. By rigorously documenting real world discriminatory practices, situation testing can importantly infl uence public opinion and government policy, as well as change employers’ behavior through education or litigation.


To read the full text click HERE

Call for participation: The Israel Research Forum on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

7 04 2012

This is not the first time that I am writing about the CRPD. However, this post is written on a very special occasion: the establishment of the Israel research forum on the CRPD. I am personally very honored to be one of the forum’s founders and I hope and believe that this forum will promote the adequate implementation of the CRPD in Israel, and worldwide.

Here is a call for participation for the forum. If you believe that you may contribute to our work please contact us.

Happy holidays!


A vidoe about the importance of Living the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Treaty

1 04 2012

As I wrote before, The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is an international treaty that promotes quality of life, choice and inclusion of people with disabilities. It protects fundamental rights and advances respect for persons with disabilities as part of the human family.

This time I wish to share with you a nice video of the California’s Department of Developmental Services Consumer Advisory Committee which showcase the importance of “Living the CRPD Treaty” to advance basic human rights, dignity and autonomy, including the freedom to make one’s own choices. Californians’ with disabilities and their families describe lives that reflect CRPD’s purpose: advancing a world free of discrimination with full participation by persons with disabilities in their neighborhoods, schools, workplaces and civic arenas.

What do you think about this video?


The British Social Model of Disability

17 03 2012

“We believe that the claim that everyone is impaired, not just ‘disabled people’, is a far-reaching and important insight into human experience, with major implications for medical and social intervention in the twenty-first century” (Shakespeare and Watson, 2002)

I had previously written about the different perspective on disabilities. This time I want to refer to an interesting paper by Shakespeare and Watson (2002) that describes the  British social model of disability while proposing alternative theoretical perspectives, particularly those of post-structuralism and post-modernism.

I find this paper highly important to our understanding of disability, to the ways we should study the impact of disability and to the ways that we should develop and implement interventions to enhance social inclusion of people with disability. What do you think about this approach?





Social inclusion from the perspective of persons with disability

5 03 2012

The professional literature indicates that social inclusion means full and fair access to community-based resources and activities, having relationships with family, friends and acquaintances, and having a sense of belonging to a group. Furthermore, this approach claims that it is not enough that people with disabilities would be in the community, they should be part of the community. That is to say, social inclusion represents more than the mere physical presence, but the participation and engagement in the mainstream society.

While the literature on social inclusion is vast, there is no one consensual definition of social inclusion. Furthermore, we still don’t really understand what social inclusion means and there is still no real way to determine and measure whether service providers are successful in facilitating or achieving social inclusion for the persons they support.

Given the fact that in the disability field we can not fully understand social inclusion or any other topic without asking the notion of people with disabilities, it is encouraging to see studies that examined the perspective of people with disability on social inclusion. For example,  in her meta-analysis, Hall* describes the elements and experiences of social inclusion for people with disabilities. Furthermore, she identified six dimensions of social inclusion:

  • being accepted and recognized as an individual beyond the disability
  • having personal relationships with family, friends, and acquaintances
  • being involved in recreation, leisure and other social activities
  • having appropriate living accommodations
  • having employment
  • having appropriate formal (service system) and informal (family and caregiver) supports.

What can be learn about these dimensions and how you think that they could help us promote social inclusion of people with disability?

* Hall SA. The social inclusion of people with disabilities: a qualitative meta-analysis.

J Ethnogr Qual Res 2009; 3:162–173.