On Disability Rights, Building a Movement One Billion Strong

More than a billion people in the world have a disability, according to the World Health Organization. That’s one out of every seven people.

Some of these people are lucky enough to live in places where their rights are respected. But many more are not. Because of physical, communication, and attitudinal barriers, persons with disabilities are denied the right to make their own decisions, excluded from education, and locked in institutions.

In this video, Diana Samarasan, the founding executive director of the Disability Rights Fund, talks about how her organization supports grassroots, marginalized, and emerging groups of people with disabilities to advocate for human rights. The Fund’s mission is clear: ensure that the rights of every person with a disability are respected.

Since its establishment in 2008, the Fund has been an important player in building the disability rights movement globally. It provides grants to disabled persons’ organizations to support the advancement of rights guaranteed in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the treaty adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2006 to ensure that individuals with disabilities enjoy full equality.

The Fund plays a vital role in supporting groups that few other donors manage to reach. Underpinning all of its activities is the spirit of the disability community’s slogan: “Nothing about us without us”—an inclusive, rights-based empowerment approach.

“Through this funding, people with disabilities are taking control of rights struggles,” says Samarasan. “We’re seeing people defining themselves for themselves.”

Learn More:



Your work is essential to all. Thank you!

we appreciate your great work peace be unto you all.

We need this on 1st Nations reserves for the ones who suffered through residential school syndromes. We need to make sure that every band office has this information.

Can you tell me what is your stance on the closure of the ILF. This funding enables thousands of disabled people including those with learning disabilities, to live independently. Would you be willing to join a campaign to keep the ILF open.?

The Open Society Foundations works with other disability rights funders, such as the Disability Rights Fund, to promote the full inclusion of people with disabilities in their communities, including the right to live independently.

At present, however, our work focuses primarily on supporting the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in developing countries. In those places, we support organizations of people with disabilities to ensure that they are at the forefront of any public campaigning.

Interested on Disability Human Rights programs for 2015-6 and I would appreciate getting list of funders for the same topic

Hi, thanks once again, I am called Yuba Chepchumba physically challenged, along with my other friend Jackline Chesang, facilitator Advocacy Department, Tulmax, visually challenged, both feel deeply glad to learn of open society foundations concern for the like of us with double tragedy; disability and breach of our rights, a glimpse of hope at last, still challenges are there; medical care, eduction--we go to school late in life because of discrimination, some of us are taken to hospital when we have been sick for some days or when a passionate friend comes by. We advocate for practical implementation of our rights especially at the grass-roots level.

One of the problems that this group face, however, is not being a big enough political lobby to be able to obtain the funding and support that they deserve and that could make a huge difference to their lives.

What's wrong with corporates creating all this inequality it boggles my mind as its just insane! Man's inhumanity to man!

Keep up your work. Rwandan people with disabilities are so much benefiting from your funding to advance their rights.

Add your voice