Resources from our International Day and more

We all want a holiday, so here's a handy reference of what just happened

Hey all,

I know it's the end of the year and nobody wants to know about this… but we have our international day at the start of December and so that means there are plenty of new disability links.

Welcome to another edition of Disability Debrief news-roundup. You’ll be pleased to hear that there are fewer links than previous editions, so I keep them in the email itself.

To see what more links look like, go to the November edition. And to keep them flowing, do subscribe or share with people that need more disability news in their lives…

Disability Debrief is made by me, Peter Torres Fremlin, a freelance consultant. This edition is produced with support from Center for Inclusive Policy.



December is a busy month for disability work. As well as the Conference of States Parties where governments and disability movement get together - normally in New York, but this year online for the 13th session. There was also International Disability Day celebrated all over the world, including through am ambitious global Purple Light Up celebrating persons with disabilities in work and further employment opportunities. And see below for reports in several areas that were released.

Naturally COVID-19 continues to be ever present, and there were continuing flow of recommendations and voices on this. While I am a bit relieved the initial intensity of information has wound down, I am concerned that the deep and continuing impact of persons with disabilities continues is not being fully recorded. Great news about vaccine development, of course, and an important recommendations to ensure persons with disabilities are prioritized in access (link to pdf, IDA).

We have plenty below on education, which saw several new reports, and in employment I was particularly struck by the graphs that demonstrate persons with disabilities do not have equal access to work around the world (ILO).

In participation there is an important new report on how persons with disabilities are increasingly consulted, but not yet participating (IDA). Governments and other organizations are more likely to talk to us than before but we are not involved in more systematic ways. See the Participation section below for other highlights from the report.

In among all of this one of my favourite things was a photobook by a talented friend of mine: Christian Tasso's Celebration of Humanity (link to pdf). The pictures and stories show persons with disabilities full of life and potential from around the world. As well as being interesting in their own right this work sets a great example for us working on disability about how we can continue to challenge stereotypes, including those present in our own work. (See Bridging the Gap for other versions, including with alternative text.)

Closing 2020

What a year. Among personal and professional challenges, I'm glad to have started this newsletter and had the kindness of readers and supporters as part of it. Thanks to over 600 of you for joining this year, a bit more than my initial target of 100 subscribers.

And once again many thanks to the Center for Inclusive Policy that showed a trust and faith in this project, providing sponsorship that allowed me to carry on in the face of the flood of COVID-19 related information.

There will be a lot to do in disability work for next year. We continue with the many challenges that the COVID-19 crisis has created for disabled people, but also with opportunities and new connections that it has made for the disability sector.

I hope to continue to play my small part in all of that with this newsletter that shares a fraction of the huge efforts being made for disability rights. I've got some good ideas about doing this more regularly and with fewer links, or even trying more interviews like the one with Catalina Devandas.

Let's see how it all works out! Here's hoping for a better 2021. Best wishes to you and yours, and wind in the sails for all the work you do.


The topics covered below are:

  • Accessibility and Design
  • Assistive Technology
  • Civil Society
  • Community-based Rehabilitation
  • Conference of States Parties
  • COVID-19
  • Culture and Entertainment
  • Data
  • Digital Accessibility and Technology
  • Education and childhood
  • Elections and Politics
  • Employment, business and work
  • Health
  • History
  • Humanitarian, Migrants and Refugees
  • International Cooperation
  • Lived Experience and Opinion
  • Participation
  • Policy and rights
  • Sign Languages
  • Social Protection
  • Violence
  • Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

And in closing there are some events and vacancies.


Accessibility and Design

See below for separate section on Digital Accessibility.

In Greece, New lift, pathways to open the Acropolis to disabled visitors (December, PBS News Hour)

From India,

In Mongolia, Inclusive Design and Accessibility of the Built Environment in Ulaanbaatar (October, AT2030)

In Spain, a campaign on Cognitive Accessibility Already "I have the right to understand the world: cognitive accessibility is law" (in Spanish, December, Plena Inclusión)

Assistive Technology

The Case for Investing in Assistive Technology (ATscale) “The figures are dramatic: investment in the provision of four assistive products - hearing aids, prostheses, eyeglasses, and wheelchairs - will result in a return on investment of 9:1.”

UK Aid funding to support 10.5 million more people with access to life changing Assistive Technology through three innovative investments (December, Global Disability Innovation Hub)

The Digital and Assistive Technologies for Ageing initiative learning from the GATE initiative (December, The Lancet)

In Cameroon and India, Estimating assistive product need in Cameroon and India: results of population-based surveys and comparison of self-report and clinical impairment assessment approaches (November, Tropical Medicine and International Health) Shows “high need and low coverage” for distance glasses, hearing aids and wheelchairs.

Civil Society

In Ghana, Federation Of Disability Organizations Appeals For Government Aid (Disability News Africa)

Useful article from the United States, challenging ableism through language justice which explores "language justice" in grantmaking practices with some ambitious recommendations (December, PhilanTopic)

Community-based Rehabilitation

In Guatemala, Expanding the Evidence on Community-Based Rehabilitation for People with Amputation Longitudinal Analysis of Three Cohorts in Guatemala (link to pdf, November, ROMP)

Conference of States Parties (COSP)

COSP is the meeting of Governments that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This was the 13th Session.

See the opening remarks from the UN Secretary General (November, UN)

Elections of new members were held to the Committee of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, CRPD Committee. Gender parity achieved! (December, IDA) See also comment from World Federation of the Deaf.

Further comments: Inclusion International disappointed "to see lack of examples of accessibility for people with intellectual disabilities" (November, Inclusion International on twitter)


UN Human Rights experts urge countries that people with disabilities have vital role in the "building back better" process (December, OHCHR)

Message to make persons with disabilities a priority in the COVID-19 response from Global Business and Disability Network (November, ILO) See also the declaration that disability inclusion remains a priority for companies (November, ILO, also in Spanish) and webinar on Corporate commitment to disability inclusion in times of the pandemic (December, ILO)

Swiss Disability and Development Consortium recommendations for an inclusive COVID-19 response (November, SDDC)

A More Accessible and Sustainable World A Disability-inclusive Response to COVID-19 (December, World Bank)

We can't let the pandemic derail progress for disabled people (December, World Economic Forum)

Disability, Inequality and COVID-19: How can we rebuild society inclusively? (December, OECD Forum) Reflections from Sightsavers.

Building back better: toward a minority, indigenous and disability-inclusive post-Covid-19 world (December, Minority Rights)

Three Ways USAID is Supporting Persons with Disabilities to Face the Challenges of COVID-19 (December, USAID)

In Bangladesh, Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on Persons with Disabilities in Bangladesh - questionnaire survey from 200 families of persons with disabilities (2021 issue, European Journal of Social Sciences Studies)

In Brazil, The challenge of including people with disabilities in the strategy to address the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil (link to pdf, November, Epidemiologia e Serviços de Saúde). Also in Portuguese.

In Europe, a turning point for disability rights in Europe a tribute to the millions of persons with disabilities in Europe who suffered the most devastating consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic (December, EDF)

In the United States, As Hospitals Fear Being Overwhelmed By COVID-19, Do The Disabled Get The Same Access? (December, NPR)

In the United Kingdom


International Disability Alliance recommendations to reach the furthest behind first by prioritizing persons with disabilities in accessing COVID-19 vaccinations (link to pdf, December)

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has a Statement on universal and equitable access to vaccines for COVID-19 says governments must not discriminate on the grounds of disability, among other categories. (link to word document, November)

In the United Kingdom, People with learning disabilities should be prioritised for a Covid vaccine (December, Guardian)

Culture and Entertainment

Normally I share a lot about Netflix, but Hulu is also there: Hulu’s New Disability Representation Collection Puts the Spotlight on Actors with Disabilities (December, Respect Ability)


If you love disability data and don't already know, then the Disability Data Advocacy Working Group has a great email list where further resources are shared (link to pdf).

How-To Note: Collecting Data on Disability Prevalence in Education Programs (November, supported by USAID)

Best Practices in Generating Data on Learners with Disabilities (October, supported by USAID)

Disability Identification Tool Selection Guide to determine which data collection tool is appropriate in education activities (October, supported by USAID)

From UNICEF, Data collection on children in residential care Protocol and tools for a national census and survey on children in residential care (December)

Digital Accessibility, and Technology

Principles for Driving the Digital Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities - signatories include major mobile operators (December, GSMA)

On Artificial Intelligence:

Look to Speak application from Google that "helps people communicate with their eyes" (December, Google)

Learn the Fundamentals of Automated accessibility testing from Test Automation University.

How To Put Accessibility At The Forefront Of Marketing (December, Forbes)

In Europe, Making Digital Technologies Accessible to All (December, Digital Freedom Fund)

An intriguing project, Alt-Text as Poetry (Bojana Coklyat and Shannon Finnegan) “How can we approach alt-text thoughtfully and creatively?”

Education and childhood

See the new Knowledge Repository from the Inclusive Education Initiative, a trust fund overseen by the World Bank.

USAID studies Explore Current Trends in Disability Inclusive Education in Sub-Saharan Africa: Findings and Recommendations (December, Education Links)

A global report from LFTW, Leave No Child Behind Invest in the Early Years (December, LFTW): “investing in equitable and inclusive Early Childhood Development programmes is a sound investment in meeting the SDGs.”

Report on Inclusive Education in a post-COVID world from Humanity and Inclusion (November) “Let’s break silos now!” See also a blog discussing the report (December, GPE)

Unheard Children report from Deaf Child Worldwide.

Accessible to All: Creating Learning Materials for Children with Disabilities in Cambodia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Tajikistan (December, Education Links)

Reducing stigma and discrimination against children with disabilities (link to pdf, UNICEF)

Collection of resources and links for international day of people with disabilities 2020 (UKFIET)

Children with Disabilities have a right to Quality Education (December, Save the Children)

Millions of children with disabilities are missing out on education. "Like me, they deserve to fulfill their potential" (December, CNN)

Educational resources based on the Rising Phoenix documentary about the paralympics (Rising Phoenix)

In Brazil, Education Risk for Children With Disabilities New National Policy Encourages School Segregation (December, Human Rights Watch)

In Kyrgyzstan, Insisting on Inclusion a report on Institutionalisation and Barriers to Education for Children with Disabilities (December, Human Rights Watch). See also Barriers to Education for Children with Disabilities: Inclusive Education Key to Ending Segregation in Institutions.

In Nepal, Making learning accessible to all (December, World Bank)

Elections and Politics

Post celebrating International Disability Day featuring examples from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems.

In Europe, Voting rights of persons with disabilities: European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) demands a change in the EU electoral law (December, EESC)

From the United States,

Employment, Business and Work

The Zero Project has given 82 Awards in Inclusive Employment and ICT for 2021. These feature innovations and best practice from around the world.

From ILO, how disability affects labour market outcomes - some great graphs with international data showing that persons with disabilities are less likely to be looking for work or employed than persons without disabilities. A great resource which also gets into further detail on paid employment, education and gender. (December, ILO)

The Purple Light Up was a 24-hour broadcast on the 3rd of December. Watch back and more on the Purple Light Up Website. See also comment from the ILO.

International Summit on Legal Professionals with Disabilities was held at the start of December.

What has the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic been for people with disabilities in the workplace? (December, Fleur Bothwick)

From Accenture, Enabling change for people of all abilities (December)

In the United Kingdom,


See WHO materials for International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The Director General shared that the WHO launched its own policy on disability to “set an example on disability inclusion”, but I didn't see a link to that policy. See also their fact-sheet on disability and health.

What about rehabilitation? "Indispensable in the pursuit of universal health coverage!" - a joint statement (link to pdf, December, Global Rehabilitation Alliance)

On World AIDS Day 2020 remember that 25% of people living with HIV have disabilities (December, The Missing Billion)

In New Zealand, People with intellectual disabilities in New Zealand are dying too young and we don’t know why. (November, IHC Foundation)


In the United Kingdom, a timeline of the disabled people's rights movement in the UK (December, Inclusion London)

In the United States,

Humanitarian, migrants and refugees

The Global Humanitarian Overview 2021 features persons with disabilities among its key issues (December, UN OCHA)

A Call to Protect People with Disabilities in Armed Conflict Disability Rights Advocate Nujeen Mustafa Urges Governments to Act (December, Human Rights Watch)

A more inclusive post-Covid-19 world for persons with disabilities – how humanitarians can play their part (December, ODI)

Inclusion and exclusion in humanitarian action: the state of play (November, ODI). This report is not about disability but has important points for our work. It offers a critique of the way “vulnerability” is used in operations, and the process of labelling groups by identity, such as disability. It argues we need to go beyond technical approaches and  “understand humanitarian action as a whole and identify the more political drivers of inclusion and exclusion within humanitarian action”:

We argue that the categorical approach to vulnerability has encouraged a fragmentation of inclusion by diversity factors such as disability, gender or age; and while technical approaches to inclusion are necessary, they are not sufficient. In order to address these challenges, a better understanding of the multi-dimensional drivers of inclusion and exclusion – how they relate to each other and intersect – is needed if humanitarian action is to become more systematically inclusive.

In perhaps a similar spirit, this report from Help Age If Not Now, When? discusses older people's rights in emergencies with references to disability and many shared concerns.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Vision 2030 on Disability "aims to transform the way the ICRC addresses disability inclusion in operations" (August, ICRC) I missed this earlier in the year. “This is not a question of priorities, but rather a question of the quality, effectiveness and relevance of the ICRC’s humanitarian activities.”

Apparently the UNHCR developed a 5 year plan “to enhance the inclusion of people with disabilities across UNHCR's programming” (December, UNHCR official on twitter), but I couldn't find what it was by googling.

In Nepal, a refugee changemaker drives forward the inclusion of refugees with disabilities (December, UNHCR)

In Somalia, Disability, violence, and mental health among Somali refugee women in a humanitarian setting (October, Global Mental Health) “This research highlights the need for mental health and disability screening within Gender-Based Violence response programming.”

International Cooperation

The next Global Disability Summit will be co-hosted by Norway and International Disability Alliance in Oslo, 2022 (December, Government of Norway)

The Dutch Coalition on Disability and Development, celebrated twenty years with an online event. (December)

The UK Government:

Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities network celebrates International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2020 (CPA)

Working in Partnership with Multiple Stakeholders on Global Policy Processes: Disability and Inclusive Education (November, Impact Initiative) - exploring how to work together in coalitions to achieve goals for rights of persons with disabilities.

Who are the "bottom billion" - people with disabilities (link to pdf, Social Development Direct)

When women are empowered, we all benefit "we highlight the vital role that women play in making disability rights a reality." (December, LFTW)

Citizen reporting is a podcast from Inclusive Futures: "People who have disabilities are the best people to report on the issues that affect them." Includes a recent discussion between Vladimir Cuk and Dom Haslam from IDA and Sightsavers respectively.

The stories of Zoë and Thierry UNICEF colleagues share lived experience with disability (December, UNICEF)

And, to end this section on a note of caution - the UNDP Human Development Report 2020 mentions disability 6 times in its 400 pages. We have a way to go yet.

Lived Experience and Opinion

A beautiful photobook: Celebration of Humanity striking pictures and stories of persons with disabilities from around the world (English and Spanish, with alternative formats, Bridging the Gap)

  • An interview on the project: another view: a celebration of humanity - on how this project shifts our communications on disability (December, FIIAPP)
  • See also the photographer Christian Tasso on Instagram, where he shares more of the cases. Great to see persons with disabilities presented as regular folk in all of our diversity.

From the United Kingdom,

In the United States, a striking article The Virus has Stolen Your Face from Me (December, New York Times), discussing the author's work as a portrait artist and her own relations with masks and faces:

I use my face to mitigate people’s reactions to my body — my curved spine, my orthopedic boots, my silver-red hair, my limp. I beam out my expressions — and my words — to defend myself against harassment. Against ignorance. Against being ignored. Now my mask muffles my voice, kidnaps my face and reduces my body to a diagnosis.


An important report on participation of organizations of persons with disabilities - "increasingly consulted, but not yet participating" (November, IDA). Based on a global survey with 573 respondents from disabled people's organizations in 165 countries.

The headline finding is positive:

  • Participation of organizations of persons with disabilities “is increasing overall” — this is contrasted with shrinking space for civil society.

However, participation “remains insufficient”:

  • Levels of participation differ among different parts of the disability movement: “Persons with psychosocial disabilities, persons with intellectual disabilities, persons with deafblindness, deaf persons, women with disabilities, and indigenous persons with disabilities are still largely left out of consultation and decision-making processes.”
  • “Significant barriers to participation in decision-making remain, whether with governments, UN or funding agencies.” While almost one third of organizations report more funding that last year, “financial support remains the biggest challenge for Organizations of Persons with Disabilities to exist”.
  • Some key reminders for us in international work, including that respondents reported “higher levels of involvement with government than with UN agencies or programmes and funding agencies”.

For me the message of the report is in its title: “increasingly consulted, but not participating”. It summarises nicely the mixed experiences of organizations of persons with disabilities in the report, which range from quite involved to being on the outside of processes that exclude us and hurt our rights. On the one hand we are more involved with higher profile than before. And on the other hand, the conditions and opportunities for meaningful participation are not yet there.

Policy and Rights

An impressive Global Map of disability policy and data by country (Sport and Peace). Coming from a Paralympic context, but content goes far beyond that.

In the Americas, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) Calls on States to Adopt Measures to Guarantee People with Disabilities Full Legal Capacity from a Human Rights Approach (December, OAS)

In Australia,

In the Congo, New bill offers hope to people with disabilities in DR Congo (December, France 24)

In Europe, EU to promote disability rights globally: EDF welcomes the inclusion of the rights of persons with disabilities in the EUs newly launched Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024 (December, EDF)

In Gaza, Israeli Restrictions Harm People with Disabilities (December, Human Rights Watch) “Sweeping Israeli restrictions on the movement of people and goods, at times exacerbated by restrictive policies by Palestinian authorities, curb access to assistive devices, health care, and electricity essential to many people with disabilities.” See also How One Woman with a Disability Builds a Life in Gaza a "witness" report.

In the United States,

Sign Languages

The Legal recognition of National Sign Languages (December, World Federation of the Deaf) With details of around 60 countries who have legally recognised sign languages.

All Children Reading Grand Challenge creates global standards for sign language storybook production (December, All Children Reading)

Social Protection

A report from World Bank on Creating Disability Inclusive Identification Systems (December). As well as technical advice on disability identification systems, the report advocates for these schemes: “Disability-inclusive ID systems not only realize the right to an identity, but they can also unlock access to health and rehabilitation services, disability support, social protection schemes, education, and financial and other services that allow persons with disabilities to enter the formal economy and improve their livelihoods.” (I would have liked to see concerns, or arguments against, disability ID systems articulated.)


From Shadows to the Centre 16 Days of Global Campaign to End Violence Against Women With Disabilities (December, Rising Flame) Including important testimonies from women with disabilities, including these experiences as an activist working on disability rights, Not Here for Optics; We have a Voice: “It always seemed to me that men in the community tended to treat women as ‘flowers’; as less than. Merely there for optics but without a voice. It has always been a power thing in that way and harassment thrives in such an environment.”

How do programmes to prevent intimate partner violence among the general population impact women with disabilities? (December, BMJ Global Health): “women with and without disabilities had similar outcomes.”

Disability and sexual violence in the COVID-19 era (December, ICRC)

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

Building the evidence for effective disability-inclusive water, sanitation and hygiene (December, WaterAid)



Crip Camp wants to “create and celebrate a global community of people who are disabled or who want to be disability changemakers” (on Twitter). They ask for people to fill out this form.


2021-2030 will be the Decade of Healthy Ageing. following delcaration from the United Nations General Assembly (December, WHO)

Disability design and innovation in low resource settings. Workshop at CHI2021 (Contributions to be submitted by February 28th)


At World Blind Union, there are vacancies, including a Human Rights and Development Program Officer (deadline 20th December).

International Disability Alliance's vacancies has a full-time Senior Monitoring & Evaluation Advisor vacancy, some consultancies and two fellowships.

At Global Disability Innovation Hub, there is a vacancy for an innovation researcher (deadline 12th January)

Voice Global has calls for proposals open for grants in several countries in the Global South.


These newsletters are produced by me, Peter Torres Fremlin. Any opinions or mistakes are mine. Many thanks for Center for Inclusive Policy's support to this edition.

See you next year

Take care, and see you with more links and disability content soon.