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Foreign Policy and Disability: Legislative Strategies and Civil Rights Protections To Ensure Inclusion of People with Disabilities

Tuesday, September 9, 2003
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September 9, 2003


This report is a follow-up to NCD’s 1996 Foreign Policy and Disability report that found continued barriers to access for people with disabilities in U.S. foreign assistance programs.

In the 1996 report, NCD recommended a series of policy changes to ensure inclusion of people with disabilities in all foreign assistance programs, including the establishment of specific objectives for inclusion with a timetable for their fulfillment. Seven years later, NCD has concluded that inclusion of people with disabilities in U.S. foreign policy will be achieved only when specific legislation is enacted to achieve that purpose. This report reviews a number of models that Congress has adopted for linking human rights and foreign policy that can be adapted to ensure the inclusion of people with disabilities. This report looks primarily at the U.S. Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Among the various strategies and approaches to improve foreign assistance policies and practices, NCD recommends that Congress amend the Foreign Assistance Act to ensure inclusion of people with disabilities in all U.S. programs by requiring every U.S. agency operating abroad to operate in a manner that is accessible and inclusive of people with disabilities. NCD recommends that this be accomplished by, among other reforms, amending the Foreign Assistance Act to create a Disability Advisor at the State Department and creating an office on Disability and Development at USAID.

NCD also calls on your Administration to recognize that all U.S. government operations abroad should be brought into compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The principles of non-discrimination, access, and inclusion of people with disabilities have been established as civil rights. The reforms discussed in this report are needed to ensure that people with disabilities can fully contribute to U.S. foreign policies and programs abroad as they have done so effectively at home.

An official website of the National Council on Disability