As a disability rights organization based in the United States, DRI is committed to ensuring that US government foreign policy, international development, and humanitarian relief programs, advance the human rights of people with disabilities and address their needs in a fully inclusive manner.

Seeking support and funding to protect families and avoid institutionalization around the world –

DRI has brought attention to a global gap in funding to support people with disabilities and families around the world to ensure that no family is forced to give up a child with a disability or place them in an orphanage or institution.  DRI created a broad coalition of for than 100 US disability and children’s groups, as well as international development organizations to endorse the call for new legislation. At the request of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, DRI helped draft the International Children with Disabilities Protection Act, which was adopted by the United States Senate in July 2006 with bipartisan support.   In September 2023, Reps Jake LaTurner (R-KS) and Dina Titus (D-NV), joined by Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagon (R-AS), Michael Lawler (R-NY), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), James McGovern (D-MA) introduced the bill in the House.  We thank our bi-partisan supporters in the Senate and House and call on the House Foreign Affairs Committee to markup the legislation during the 118th Congress.

Calling on the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to address the human rights of people with disabilities –

DRI monitors and works to hold US foreign assistance programs accountable to ensure that US government funds are fully accessible to people with disabilities and are not used to support institutions or group homes for children.  In December 2013, DRI submitted detailed comments on the proposed new USAID disability policy calling for a stronger commitment to help governments worldwide end policies and practices of placing people with disabilities in institutions.  In April 2023, DRI raised concerns about a US government funding program that would allow funding for group homes for children.  We also called for a requirement that US-funding programs on childcare reform would support disability participation and require consultation with organizations of persons with disabilities. The Global Coalition on Deinstitutionalization followed with an Open Letter to USAID Administrator Samantha Power.

Working with the US National Council on Disability to advance inclusive development policies –

DRI served as a consultant to the US National Council on Disability to research and public the influential report US Foreign Policy and Disability.  This report led to the adoption of the first Congressional earmark for the disability program at the US Agency for International Development.

Leadership on the US International Council on Disability (USICD) –

DRI Executive Director Eric Rosenthal was elected to the Board of Directors of USICD in 2001. He served as Vice President of the Organization for many years and no longer serves as Chair of the USICD Policy Committee.  The USICD Board brings together representatives of the United States disability rights movement and coordinates efforts to engage people with disabilities in the United States to advance inclusive US government disability policies.

Seeking US ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

As co-chair of the USICD Policy Committee then, DRI led efforts to gain US ratification of the CRPD.  We obtained support from the Obama Administration which signed the CRPD on behalf of the United States on July 30, 2009, and we contributed to the analysis of the transmission package sent to the US Senate on May 17, 2012.