A number of Ashoka fellows are addressing challenges experienced by people with disabilities and their families. Over the past few years we have formed ourselves into a 'caucus' to discover how we can combine our efforts, particularly to advance the well being of people with disabilities and their families in developing countries. You may be surprised to learn:
- there are 750 million people with disabilities in the world
- 8 million babies with disabilities are born annually in developing countries
- 98% of children with disabilities in developing or poor countries are not in school
Despite this disturbing situation the UN's Millennium Development Goals contain no specific reference to people with disabilities. People with disabilities experience refugee camps, poverty and the diaspora on top of little or no support for mediating their disability condition. Ashoka fellows intend to do something about this.
The first fruit of our global disability initiative is an electronic book: Creating Change:
Innovations in the World of Disability which we published late last year.
We are still waiting for an English publisher but you can access the
book on PLAN
Institute's site or Download Creating-Change-Innovations-in-the-World-of-Disability_0. My chapter starts on page 35.
A number of our Ashoka colleagues in the 'caucus' were also chosen for the
Ashoka Globalizer gathering in Vienna. Until the event was postponed, we had plans to discuss our next steps in our global disability initiative. While that will have to wait you won't. Have a look at the Globalizer website to view
the work of these 'disability' fellows or visit their websites
directly. I've included links to three of my fellow authors below.
Caroline Casey has
created ' Ability Awards' which are engaging businesses in Ireland in
catering to people with disabilities as employees and customers. Caroline is a dynamo whose closing remarks at the Skoll World Forum
inspired everyone. She is mobilizing the economic power of people with disabilities and has intentions as do the other fellows to expand world wide.
Andreas Heinecke has created Dialogues in the Dark to give people the experience of being visually impaired and Dialogues in Silence for people who are hearing impaired. His work has spread to 30 countries; over 6 million people have experienced the dialogues and 6000 people with disabilities have been employed.
Estela Villareal is leading a movement of inclusion for young people with disabilities throughout Mexico and Central America. She uses recreation as her primary means of convening, awareness and cultural transformation. Over 200,000 youth with disabilities have been directly affected by her leadership.
Caroline is featured on page 23 of Creating Change; Andreas on page 47; and Estela on page 95.
NOTE: The Ashoka Globalizer panels I wrote about last week have been postponed due to the volcanic ash covering most of Europe. Vickie and I and a number of other Canadians are waiting in London for the sky to clear. Until they do, we have scheduled meetings to tap into the social innovation and finance expertise that exists in this exciting city.