United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD) Newsletter

October/ November 2017
Purchase Tickets Today for the USICD Gala on December 5th, 2017!
Please join us on 5 December to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities! The event will be held at the beautiful Embassy of France in Washington, DC, from 6 to 8 pm. Remarks by His Excellency Ambassador Gerard Araud will begin at 6:15 pm. 

This year, our 2017 Dole-Harkin Award recipients are U.S. Senator John Barrasso and long-time international disability rights activist Judith Heumann! We will also recognize International Advocate Award, Risnawati Utami from Indonesia.

Come mingle with like-minded people who believe in the importance of the US disability community connecting with the global disability rights movement to promote disability rights around the world!

Excited about the gala? In social media, use the hashtag #USICDGala to talk about the event!

Image shows a formal invitation to the 2017 USICD Gala on December 5th from 6 to 8 pm at the Embassy of France  Click on the image or on the links in the article to a web page with more detail about the event in more accessible format

USICD Meeting with the Embassy of Sierra Leone 
USICD Executive DIrector, Isabel Hodge (second from the right) with Embassy staff.

USICD's Executive Director, Isabel Hodge, met with the Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone on 11 November. Sierra Leone estimates 2.7% of their 7 million population are people with disabilities. The Embassy reported that the incidence of disability is increasing due to conflicts, the rebel war, the recent Ebola outbreak, and other disasters. They are seeking assistance in several areas, such as:
  • Accessible transportation
  • Mobility devices
  • Vocational training
  • Accessible housing
  • Musical instruments
Please contact Mr. Joseph Fofanah  learn more about issues impacting people with disabilities in Sierra Leone. 
U.S. & Ireland Independent Living Peer Project
Tony Ellis, Oregon's State Independent Living Council Chair, and W. Kirt Toombs, chief executive officer for Eastern Oregon Center for Independent Living, invites Independent Living advocates to join them from June 18 - 23rd in 2018 for an United States & Ireland Independent Living Peer Project.

This is an opportunity to participate in the 10th Annual Disability Law and Policy Summer school at University of Ireland Galway Centre for Disability Law and Policy Institute for Lifecourse and Society and to network with our Ireland peers for the purposes of collaboratively advancing IL movement in the U.S. and Ireland.

For more detail on the U.S.-Ireland Independent Living Peer Project, visit

Oregon's State Independent Living Council is a USICD member organization.
Use Amazon Smile to Support USICD
Consider using Amazon Smile to do your online shopping and support USICD at the same time! Instead of using your usual link, visit this link:

From this link, do your holiday shopping and make your purchases as usual. A percentage of your purchases will be donated to USICD!

Special Olympics Panel Discussion
USICD Executive Director Isabel Hodge with Special Olympics CEO, Mary Davis

On October 27th, USICD's Executive Director, Isabel Hodge, and Board Member, Janet Lord participated in a Special Olympics Headquarters  Staff Connect  panel with Ambassador Luis Gallegos, Garrie Barnes (Special Olympics athlete employee), Antony Pipa (Brookings Institution), Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo (The World Bank), Dr. Derrick Cogburn (American University Institute on Disability and Public Policy). 

Isabel Hodge & Dr. Derrick Cogburn Holding a Special Olympics Soccer Ball
The topic of the panel discussion was
Human Rights and Resources for Inclusion; The Convention on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The discussion helped  staff develop an understanding of the importance of these global frameworks to achieving Special Olympics' goal of greater inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in all aspects of society. 
Be a Part of the Global Giving Movement!
Be a part of the global giving movement and donate to USICD on 28 November! 
USICD Mourns the Loss of Global Disability Rights Leader Maria Veronica Reina 
Maria Veronica Reina 

Maria Veronica Reina, a long-time tireless advocate for disability rights in Argentina and around the world, recently passed away.

International Holman Prize Award Competition Soon to Open for Applications from Blind Adventurers, Creators
The Lighthouse for the Blind will soon begin to accept applications for its annual  international Holman Prize award competition. Blind adventurers and creators from around the world will be able to apply for a $25,000 award that they can use to launch a project. The Lighthouse for the Blind is looking for "creative, boundary-pushing, innovative projects". 

It begins with a 90-second "pitch" in YouTube in which an applicant explains their idea for how they would use the Holman Prize award money. Applicants who receive the most "likes" on their YouTube video during the application period will be asked to write a more detailed proposal. Finalists will need to interview with the award committee.

Read about 2017 Holman Prize winner Ahmet Ustunel, who is using his Holman Prize award funds to train to kayak Turkey's Bosphorus Straight completely solo. He is using this as an opportunity to educate others how blind people can use technology to navigate waters safely and independently.

Read about 2017 Holman Prize winner Penny Melville-Brown, who is using her funds to take her YouTube baking show to six continents and educate others about baking while being blind.

Read about 2017 Holman Prize winner Ojok Simon, who is using the funds to teach other blind Ugandans to become self-sustaining bee-keepers.
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In This Issue
Fourth USICD Gala on December 5th 2017!
US and Ireland Independent Living Peer Project in June 2018
Using Amazon Smile to Support USICD
Global Disability Rights Leader Maria Veronica Reina Passes Away
International Holman Prize Award Competition Soon Open for Applications from Blind Adventurers and Creators
Events and Opportunities
Come to the 4th annual USICD Gala evening event on December 5, 2017, from 6 to 8 pm at the Embassy of France in Washington DC!

Job Post: Pacific Island Grants Consultant, for Disability Rights Fund and Disability Rights Advocacy Fund. Apply by November 30, 2017.

U.S. and Ireland Independent Living Peer Project, June 13, 2018 Opportunity for independent living advocates to network with Ireland peers to promote independent living in the U.S. and Ireland.

The next World Down Syndrome Congress will be held in Scotland, July 24-27, 2018, sign up to be notified when more detail becomes available.
For more international disability news, events, and opportunities as they occur, check USICD's Twitter Feed USICD's Facebook page , or USICD's LinkedIn page !
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Board of Directors
Patricia Morrissey - President
John Wodatch- Vice President
Marca Bristo - Past President
Glen White - Secretary
David Hutt - Treasurer

Judy Heumann               Candace Cable
Ted Mauro
Jill Houghton
Axel Leblois
Barbara LeRoy
Janet Lord
Susan Mazrui
Jerry McCloskey
Michael Brogioli
Shelia Newman
Stephanie Ortoleva
Susan Parker
Debra Perry
Neil Romano 
Eric Rosenthal
Diana Samarasan
CRPD Ratification Watch
As of November 2017 :
  • 160 Signatories
  • 175 Ratifications
Optional Protocol:
  • 92 Signatories
  • 92 Ratifications
Recent Ratifications:
Monaco ratified the convention on September 19, 2017 

Fiji ratified the convention on June 7, 2017

Suriname ratified the convention on March 29, 2017

Federated States of Micronesia ratified the convention on December 7, 2016

Democratic Republic of Korea ratified the convention on December 6, 2016

Samoa ratified the convention on December 2, 2016

Belarus ratified the convention on November 29, 2016

Central African Republic ratified the convention on October 11, 2016

Iceland ratified the convention on September 23, 2016

Netherlands ratified the convention on July 13, 2016

Comoros ratified the convention on June 16, 2016

Finland ratified the convention on May 11, 2016

Brunei Darussalam ratified the convention on April 11, 2016

Sri Lanka ratified the convention on February 8, 2016

Antigua and Barbuda ratified the convention on January 7, 2016

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