Meet the New Disability Rights Defenders

Meet the New Disability Rights Defenders

Around the world, disabled people’s organizations are working to make communities more equal and inclusive. But many of those organizations lack the legal knowledge or know-how to take cases to court, to push for law reform efforts, or to undertake complex law- and policy-based advocacy.

“Disability rights was not being taught in law schools. There was very little curriculum developed, and law students weren’t getting practical experience in dealing with persons with disabilities or in representing them,” says Alison Hillman, a senior program officer with the Open Society Human Rights Initiative.

“We saw an opportunity to help fill that gap.”

In the video above, disability rights scholars and faculty talk about their experience in the Disability Rights Scholarship Program—a yearlong master of laws program that’s changing the landscape of disability rights.

“The success that individual scholars have had is exciting,” says Phillip Watkins, deputy director of the Open Society Scholarship Programs. “Facundo  Chavez Penillas is now the human rights and disability advisor to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Likando Kalaluka was recently appointed attorney general of Zambia. And Elizabeth Kamundia has joined our partners at the Center for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria to develop disability rights curricula for law schools in southern Africa. And those are just three of many stellar examples.”

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I would like to learn more about the Human Rights Initiative and hopefully work for Open Society.

Is there a way Open Society can help to sponsor a media guideline for reporting disability in Nigeria? My organization works to improve media representation of disability in Nigeria.

Good for deepening knowledge base and for certain more happening for inclusiveness and equality for all.

as a disabled person myself who is trained in law, I firmly believe that empowering the disabled persons themselves to claim their rights is very important for the protection and respect of their rights.

I am proud for this major contribution from Open Society to develop disabled people leadership skills over the last five years. Despite that, far too many of us (disabled people) remain amongst the most disadvantaged in our respective societies. Whilst a comprehensive disability rights framework has been established under the UN CRPD, it is unlikely on its own to fully transform many disabled
people’s life chances around the world. Without urgent action from other organisations to join Open Society leadership on this, disabled people will be poorly placed to weather the projected social and economic upheavals of the coming decades, solidifying existing patterns of
inequality whilst creating new challenges. For me, like many of my fellow disabled persons profiled in the video "Nothing without us or nothing about us" means that: as person with disability I have equal rights but also, I have equal obligations to be, quoting Mahatma Gandhi, the change that you wish to see in the world. It is our duty to take part in the building a new and inclusive society

I have Muscular Dystrophy and have been a wheelchair user for a long time and have worked for some large companies and have faced many forms of discrimination. If I can help you in any way please ask and thank you for the remarkable work you have undertaken.

Although small, the Placerville Mobility Support Group would like to participate on at least a regional level. Our membership is 60-strong and we serve the Sierra Foothills area. Visit

I am a disable with the left hand amputated who live in Ghana and will like to further this noble movement.

I live in Sacramento Ca. In the past year, I have tipped
over in power wheelchair at least 3 times. Why? The streets and sidewalks are so damaged you hit big cracks in the sidewalks. Also I am blind in my left eye as
well a having 2 bones removed from my right leg. Not sure how many times I almost get run over just my crossing the ST. when its my turn to cross. Most stores
do not have proper doors for me to enter.

We run a school for children with special needs/differently abled in srilanka. We run this school with greatest difficulty. Our poor parents need a school like this.Our children are Autistic/hyperactive/downsyndrome/cerbla palsey etc. Please check & facebook -menhandy.

we voice for nonvoice

The subject of fighting for rights for people with disabilities in Uganda is limited and for those people who come up the only thing they do is to swindle the funds which are provided for tht section and for the research i have so far made i have realised that there are few independent organisations which specifically look at the section of pple with disabilities and make that section not fully represented so i urge you people if you can help and come to Uganda for that cause. I wil be greatful if that is considered. Thank you for serving the world.

brilliant programe, well done. I work with the media and have realised that for disability issues to be advocated, it has to be with them , for them and by them, or else we are working against them

Dear sirs we are grassroots level of organization working for disable.we need some knowledge to work legally in ouer area.

I run an organization founded by a disabled human rights lawyer (deceased) who was Elizabeth Kamundia's lecturer at University of Niarobi - School of Law.
I would like to learn more about human rights initiative since disability is close to my heart.

i am a facilitator with a Degree in Child Psychology and founder of a civil society organization called ACTWID KONGADZEM in Cameroon which caters for the poor in rural communities with disabilities of all sorts especially rural women,children ,the girl child in majority.
We have been existing for 25years now and some men have joined us too . We are into education and rights especially sexual and reproductive rights together with health and environmental issues in our communities.We will very much like to join the Open Society Foundation to join hands in partnership and to learn more so as to disseminate the information learn t to our over 4000 registered members in ACTWID..thanks Sincerely Bernadette Losha Wendi from Cameroon

hi,i live in cameroon,living with albinism, which goes along with visual impairement amomg many,i obtained a degree in Political aScience but can't get a job due to the fact that i can't work under the sun for long added to the discrimination against people with disabilities,would like to work so i can further my education towards fighting for the disabled,or a scholarship if i could,just received a nation disability card and want to know if at the international level it could be of help to that purpose,need yr advice,thanks

Being born as a physically challenged person should not make you feel rejected because you too can play an indispensable in the building of your community just believe in your self

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