To commemorate this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, USAID is hosting a photo display, “USAID and Inclusive Development” in the lobby at the 14th Street entrance of the Ronald Reagan Building on December 3. Nancy Lindborg, Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, will speak at the display opening at 4:00 P.M. The display consists of images from USAID’s programs worldwide and illustrates the progress USAID and our partners have made in integrating persons with disabilities into the political, social, economic, and cultural life in communities around the world. It demonstrates how USAID’s inclusive development programming aligns with the Millennium Development Goals.

A usual day in inclusive kindergarten, supported by the USAID-funded Children in Difficult Circumstances Project, implemented by World Vision. Photo courtesy USAID/Yerevan

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities, annually observed on December 3, aims to promote a better understanding of disability issues worldwide. Established by the U.N. in 1981, it focuses on the rights of persons with disabilities and the value of integrating persons with disabilities into every aspect of society.

This year’s theme for International Day of Persons with Disabilities is “Keeping the Promise: Mainstreaming Disability in the Millennium Development Goals Towards 2015 and Beyond.” It continues the connection between disability programming in the developing world and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It reminds us that although many commitments have been made by the international development community to include persons with disabilities in all aspects of development, much work remains to fulfill those commitments.

Last year’s theme, “Making the Millennium Development Goals Disability-Inclusive: Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities and Their Communities Around the World,” linked disability to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). USAID supports the MDGs and inclusive development in its own policies and programming in its missions around the world.

In 2008, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities acknowledged the development of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention provides a legally binding instrument to ensure that societies recognize that all people must be provided with the opportunities to live life to their fullest potential. The United States signed the U.N. Convention on July 30, 2009.

In September 1997, USAID adopted a groundbreaking policy which led to the creation of a detailed framework to guide USAID’s efforts in the area of disability and inclusive development. The policy states that USAID will not discriminate against persons with disabilities and will work to ensure the inclusion of these individuals in USAID-funded programs and activities. The policy also calls on USAID missions to enlist partners, host-country counterparts, and other donors in a collaborative effort to end discrimination against and promote equal opportunity for persons with disabilities.

In 2005, Congress provided USAID with a dedicated source of funding to complement their commitment to include persons with disabilities in development programs and to empower them to advocate for their own rights. To date, these initiatives have supported programs in more than 40 countries, primarily through financial and technical assistance to USAID missions to promote their own inclusive  development  activities.

USAID works to educate employees on disability issues through courses and workshops. USAID provides tools and technical assistance to field missions as they institutionalize the policy and it has developed self-reporting mechanisms to track progress in implementing the policy in Washington, D.C. and overseas.

Learn more about USAID’s Disability Policy and Inclusive Development programming.

Contact: Rob Horvath,