"Working on the Disability Advocacy Project gave me the opportunity to meet people like me and to popularize the topic of disability, support persons with disabilities and promote their rights and interests. Together we can achieve a lot.” Credit: Rati Ionatamishvili, Program Manager, Policy Office at Coalition for Independent Living/Georgia.

USAID has a longstanding commitment to the empowerment and inclusion of the one billion persons with disabilities—more than 15 percent of the world’s population—around the world. The Agency believes societies that are inclusive of their diverse populations are more likely to be democratic, participatory, and equitable. USAID works to transform lives, communities, and economies in a way that is inclusive of all members of society—including persons with disabilities.

Disability Policy

USAID's Disability Policy furthers this commitment in two important ways; it states that USAID: 

  1. will not discriminate against persons with disabilities, and 
  2. will work to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities in its programs and activities. 

The policy also calls on USAID missions to encourage in-country partners to collaborate to end discrimination and promote equal opportunities for persons with disabilities in developing countries. In many cases, this includes advancing a country’s compliance with its treaty obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

USAID’s Disability Inclusive Development approach advances U.S. national interests in fostering accessible and inclusive environments around the world. Its policy is underpinned by U.S. domestic disability law, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, Rehabilitation Act, and others

USAID provides field Missions with training, technical assistance, tools, and resources to integrate disability into key mission strategic documents and develop and implement disability action plans. 

USAID promotes the inclusion of persons with disabilities across all USAID-funded work. In addition, the Disability Program Fund helps to catalyze USAID disability-inclusive programming worldwide by providing funds directly to Missions, encouraging them to include disability across all sectors of their work. Projects work to reduce barriers that limit the participation of persons with disabilities in their societies, communities, and families. 

Since 2005, USAID’s Disability Program Fund has supported more than 150 programs and activities in 65 countries, working with various organizations and implementing partners. In many instances, these organizations are Disabled People's Organizations (DPO)—civil society organizations run by and for persons with disabilities. Programming areas include democracy, human rights, and governance; economic growth and trade; and education; among others. Through its Disability Program Fund and broader inclusive development efforts, USAID is working with the disability community around the world to ensure that persons with disabilities are empowered to fully exercise their human rights on an equal basis with others.

Program Highlights

  • Art for Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities increases inclusion and improves the quality of life of children and young persons with disabilities in Belarus through launching awareness-raising campaigns, strengthening a network of local disabled people’s organizations, and developing social enterprises and community-based services. The project promotes the rights of persons with disabilities and their inclusion in society through artistic and other events. Activities also aim to engage new grassroots DPOs in networking and exchanging experiences and lessons learned. 
  • All Children Reading Cambodia improves early grade learning skills of children, including children with disabilities in grades one to three. Outcomes include meaningful participation of children with disabilities in the learning process with improved performance, writing, and mathematics.
  • Expanding Employment and Income-Generation Opportunities for Persons With Disabilities provides persons with disabilities with new climate-adaptive technologies and financing that will help them generate income and participate in the economy. The program works to integrate persons with disabilities into programs and initiatives to improve food security in the region.
disability rights Center for Independent Living Leahy War Victims Fund LWVF war victims fund WVF