According to the Office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations, Human Rights Day is “observed by the international community every year on December 10” and “commemorates the day in 1948” when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This universal declaration sets a broad range of fundamental rights and freedoms to which everyone is entitled, including people with disabilities. It also guarantees the rights of every person everywhere, without distinction based on nationality, disability, place of residence, gender, national or ethnic origin, or any other status.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not a binding document. However, it has inspired more than 60 human rights instruments and declarations, including the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (ICRPD). The ICRPD is an international treaty that promotes, protects, and ensures the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and freedoms by all people with disabilities and promotes the respect for their inherent dignity. The Convention covers several topics, including equality and non-discrimination, right to life, accessibility, independent living, equal recognition before the law, and more.
Throughout its history, NIDILRR has supported the full participation of people with disabilities in education, employment, and community living through the research and development activities it funds. These include research on the rights of people with disabilities, how laws and policies are enforced to remove or prevent barriers to participation, and how to empower people with disabilities to advocate for their rights. The NIDILRR-funded projects below are just a small sample of the work done by NIDILRR grantees in this area:
- The Parents Empowering Parents: National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities and Their Families supports the rights of parents with disabilities and their families through population-based research and analysis of national datasets to inform policy and practice and systematic analysis of state legislation and child welfare policies to identify facilitators and barriers to systematic change. This Center provides information sheets, research briefs, and other resources in English and Spanish for parents with disabilities, legal professionals, social workers, and researchers. These resources cover a variety of topics, including child-welfare law.
- The ADA National Network of regional centers offer training and technical assistance to individuals with disabilities, private entities, and state and local governments to understand their rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other relevant laws. Individual centers conduct webinars, offer publications and courses, and staff a toll-free information line (800/949-4ADA). In addition, these centers conduct research on various ADA related topics such as compliance among state and local municipalities, access to health care, emergency preparedness, substance use disorders and disability rights, and deinstitutionalization.
- The Temple University RRTC on Community Living and Participation of People with Serious Mental illness (TU Collaborative) advances the development of interventions that maximize community living and participation of individuals with severe mental illness (SMI) through research and knowledge translation activities in partnership with consumers and other key stakeholders, and serves as a national resources center for people with SMI, their families, service and support providers, researchers, policymakers, and other stakeholders. The TU Collaborative also provides resources and information on policy, discrimination, criminal justice, and more. Their podcast, Collab Chats, covers various topics, including the voting rights and access for people with disabilities.
- The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Inclusive Technologies (Wireless RERC) creates and promotes inclusive wireless technologies that improve the ability of individuals with disabilities to independently perform activities of their choice now, and in a fully-engaged and all-inclusive future; and works with industry, government, and disability stakeholders to raise awareness and champion adoption of accessible solutions for wirelessly connected technologies. Outcomes of this project include encouraging federal agencies and the wireless communications industry to adopt regulatory policies that increase accessible communications, including emergency alerts over multiple platforms.
Are you interested in learning more about the rights of people with disabilities? NARIC’s information specialists searched REHABDATA and found over 400 documents from the NIDILRR community and beyond on the civil rights of people with disabilities. You may want to also take a look at NARIC’s FAQs on the laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities, including the laws that protect their voting rights. If you would like to learn more about NIDILRR’s work in this area or if you need resources to learn more about your rights, please contact NARIC’s information specialists.