Staying up-to-date on international disability work

First edition, January 2020

Hi all,

Welcome to the first Disability Debrief update! There is now so much work on disability going on in international cooperation and humanitarian initiatives that it's hard to keep track of.

This newsletter is a roughly monthly attempt to collect what's happening. If you don't know me, I'm an independent consultant working on disability (for years now, it seems) and this is my contribution to helping us all stay on top of it all.

Jumping right in, here's what I saw come out in January. Let me know if I missed something :)

Catching up

From last year

Last year's great Global Business and Disability Network meeting from the ILO now has recordings of its sessions available online. I was there in person and particularly enjoyed the session on artificial intelligence on and its impact on employment of persons with disabilities (spoiler: we need to be alert to a danger of being excluded).

A brief video summary from the Making it Work Gender and Disability Forum 2019 in Nairobi, from Humanity and Inclusion.

From way before last year: a blog post reviewing disability and development in the Nordics from 1960s to 2000.

In the news

A bushfire evacuation while living with a disability. From Australia, stories of a lack of preparation on this issue.

Sad news from the Czech Republic, where a fire in a disability institution killed at least eight people.

Financial Times piece on how to design AI that eliminates disability bias. “We have created machines that cannot cope with diversity and complexity”.

It was 10 years since the earthquake in Haiti. Humanity and Inclusion did a situation update for 2020.

By sector

Childhood and Education

A global campaign to help children with disabilities get a good start in life. A “call on world leaders to support disability inclusive early childhood development”.

A detailed post on ensuring higher education for persons with disabilities in Uzbekistan.

Employment and business

Disability at Davos, the World Economic Forum meeting, where 241 companies have signed up to the Valuable 500 commitment.

How to use quota schemes to promote employment of persons with disabilities? A new guide from ILO on one of the most frequently used policies to promote employment of persons with disabilities. Includes a summary of policy by country.

Disability inclusion makes good business sense. A new guide from Leonard Cheshire.

The Business and Disability Forum podcast has an interview with Debra Ruh on going from corporate America to global disability work.

  • Also see this post from Debra Ruh covering tech, the US-China trade-war and inclusion of persons with disabilities in rural communities.

In India, an article from Business Today discussing companies’ efforts to employ persons with disabilities and an article from the Economic Times comments on the long way to go for India Inc.

In Myanmar, the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business prepared a report on recommendations for a quota system for persons with disabilities.

Policy and Rights

The Human Rights Watch World Report 2020 includes reports on the rights of persons with disabilities. They offer a summary of the year in disability rights.

ESCWA (UN for Arab States) has released 115 indicators to bridge the gap between policy and statistics to help monitor the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities gave an intervention (in Spanish) reflecting on the three areas of her mandate.

Pakistan has adopted a Disability Rights Act (post from Sightsavers).

UNDP Rwanda put out a video on social media : “disability is not inability… What can you do?”


I found interesting news from the Rugby League World Cup 2021 - they have a mental health charter, with a nice communications campaign and they have the wheelchair competition “with the same brand, same profile and level of support”.

Going forward…


Introduction to web accessibility, a free online course from W3C, the standard setters. Starts 30th January.

Webinar on the the role of DPOs in international cooperation - from European Disability Forum and i2i. February 6th, 11am EET.

Webinar on filling the skills gap in the public sector: the role of talent with disabilities from ILO. These are great speakers! February 13th, 3pm CET. Recording available afterwards.

If you need another newsletter the Global Disability Innovation Hub has started one.


The Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced People has a call for inputs on the rights of IDPs with disabilities. Deadline 1st March.

Upcoming Events


Assistant Researcher, Disability Rights, at Human Rights Watch. Brussels or other locations. Deadline 5th February.

Consultancy to review and assess Mental Health and Pyscho-Social Support research in humanitarian settings. From ELRHA, deadline 5th February.

Disability Inclusion Advisor job at ICRC in Geneva, deadline 17th February.

Evaluation of an inclusive education project in Bangladesh, PENDA/LSHTM, deadline 21st February.

Senior Humanitarian Advisor at CBM, any CBM global office, focus on disability, deadline 10th February.

The Snowden Masters Scholarships offer grant and allowance support for a Masters degree in the UK. It's for people who've already been accepted in the course and have secured visas where needed. Deadline 5th April, for study starting this year.


I got valuable help from Mostafa Kamal to make sure these newsletters could be read through screen-readers. And encouragement from Nick Corby, Elaine Green and others to start the newsletter in the first place.

Until next time…

Thank you for reading! Please subscribe and share with colleagues if you haven't already.