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Disability Rights

Disability Rights

In truly inclusive democracies, persons with disabilities enjoy human rights on an equal basis with others and fully participate in society. The Open Society Foundations tackle deeply entrenched discriminatory laws, practices, and attitudes that hinder full equality and inclusion of persons with disabilities in their communities.

Persons with disabilities experience marginalization in almost every aspect of their daily lives. Almost allof them face stigma, discrimination, and physical barriers that often result in their segregation orexclusion from aspects of everyday life that most people take for granted.

For example, some people with disabilities are institutionalized, sometimes against their will, cuttingthem off from the outside world. Others are denied access to adequate services and supports, fromtransportation and education, to the justice system and the labor force. And yet others are denied legalpersonhood, leaving them unable to make their own decisions and putting control of their lives in thehands of others.

Our work challenges practices that impact the most marginalized groups of people with disabilities,including:

  • ending segregation resulting from institutionalization, lack of community-based services and
  • programs, and separate special-education systems;
  • ensuring access to justice that enables equal participation for persons with disabilities who arevictims of crime, or defendants caught-up in the criminal justice system;
  • restoring the legal personhood of people with disabilities, giving them back their voice and theirchoice.

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The following Open Society programs focus on this topic.

More on the ideas and programs behind our work: Disability Rights. Hide info

Recent Work

Bringing School to an Orphanage in Kyrgyzstan Means New Prospects for Children

Askar, an 11-year-old boy, is an orphan like many in Kyrgyzstan, living with a musculoskeletal disorder and abandoned by birth parents. But he is gaining something like a community.

Briefing Paper
2014 and Beyond: Priorities for the European Union

This briefing paper presents policy areas that require an effective EU response and where Open Society has expertise as a donor and advocate of human rights and universal values.

From Confinement to Community in Croatia

The kind of life many of us take for granted is now within reach for thousands with disabilities in Croatia.

Briefing Paper
Deinstitutionalization in Croatia

This paper examines a 17-year investment by the Open Society Foundations to advance the right of Croatians with intellectual disabilities to live with support within their own communities.

Disability Is No Longer Invisible in Mongolia

Data on people with disabilities, an essential tool for addressing the challenges they face, has long been scarce in Mongolia. That's beginning to change.

Disability Rights Are Human Rights  

When Theresia Degener began working in the disability rights movement, she believed that human rights consisted of weak and unenforceable laws.

Open Society People

Emily Martinez
Open Society Foundations–Washington, D.C., Human Rights Initiative
Director, Mental Health Initiative
Public Health Program, Open Society Institute–Budapest

For Grant Seekers

December 12, 2014
Deadline: The deadline for this grant has passed.