The United States, as part of our foreign policy, works to remove barriers and create a world in which disabled people enjoy dignity and full inclusion. Discrimination against people with disabilities is not simply unjust; it hinders economic development, limits democracy, and erodes societies. On December 3, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we look back over the previous year to highlight some of the incredible human rights heroes we’ve met who are advancing the ideal of inclusion for all.
In front of the U.S. Diplomacy Center's own section of the Berlin Wall, we chatted with German Fulbright Program scholar Dorothee Stieber about removing barriers to create inclusive and accessible societies.
"Innovation is driven by difference. It's people who have different perspectives, different experiences, that come up with ideas that inspire new products, new ways of doing things." Haben Girma, disability rights activist. To commemorate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), we chatted with disability rights leaders about how #inclusion drives innovation.
During NDEAM, we also chatted with #DisabilityRights activists from #Lebanon who were in the United States on an International Visitor Leadership Program focused on accessibility and nondiscrimination. They discussed the challenges and opportunities advocating for the rights of people with disabilities both on a local and global scale.
We also met with Oleg Kolpashchikov during NDEAM to discuss his efforts to advance #disabilityrights in #Russia and how his prior experiences in the United States have informed his current work and aspirations.
To commemorate the Americans with Disabilities Act anniversary, we asked two #DisabilityRights activists from #Egypt and #Iraq how to build coalitions and an inclusive environment for advancing disability rights.
We also hosted musician Gaelynn Lea at the Department of State for a concert and discussion. Gaelynn uses her music as a platform to advocate for people with disabilities and to promote positive social change.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an opportunity to reflect on the importance of promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. We recognize that there has been great progress to advance the rights of persons with disabilities around the world, but the work is not done. The U.S. government will continue its efforts to pursue diplomacy that is inclusive, empowering and ensures full equality for all individuals.
About the Authors: Jonathan Collett serves as a Public Diplomacy Specialist and Kerri Spindler-Ranta serves as a Public Diplomacy Advisor in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the U.S. Department of State.
Editor's Note: This entry is also published in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.com.