Developing Europe’s policy skills to advance disability rights

DREAM featured as success story by EU Directorate General for Research, led by Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn. The following is an excerpt of the story featured on the EU Directorate General for Research website.

Most Member States of the European Union (EU), and the EU itself, have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). However, while the Convention will mark a major advance both for disability rights and also for European business, the necessary changes to turn it from vision into reality will not happen overnight. Adopting the Convention imposes numerous legal obligations on signatories affecting many areas of daily life.

In the words of the DREAM (Disability Rights Expanding Accessible Markets) project coordinator, Professor Gerard Quinn of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at the National University of Ireland (NUI), Galway: “EU Member States need a lot of new skills and competences to drive this forward.”

The article concludes stating with a quote from the DREAM project coordinator, Gerard Quinn.

“The researchers are already developing a common instinct for where the opportunities for change may lie, and indeed they are starting to create that space themselves. It is beautiful to watch,”

“The phrase I use to sum it up is ‘policy entrepreneurship’ – developing people who can really bring about change that transforms the lives of our citizens with disabilities,”

The remaining article may be found at the EU Directorate General for Research website.


DREAM publication of “How do social institutions influence E-Accessibility polices in the UK, US, and Norway?”

Improvement by Evaluation cover pageI’m happy to announce the publication this summer of my paper co-authored by Rune Halvorsen “How do social institutions influence E-Accessibility polices in the UK, US, and Norway?“. The paper is a peer reviewed publication published as part of the 8th International Conference on Evaluation for Practice: Improvement by Evaluation and published by the University of Tampere School of Humanities and Sciences Unit at University Consortium of Pori.

The article appears as part of Section III, International Comparative Approaches in Evaluation and the publication editors introduce the article as

[an analysis of] policy documents from the U.S., UK and Norway in order to investigate how national and supranational, policies balance and mediate regional and international economic and social needs in the context of E-Accessibility, regulated by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The results show that the different national policy traditions truly matter. The authors conclude by emphasizing the utility of judicial enforcement, the flexibility of providing a low threshold administrative complaint mechanism, and the importance of monitoring.

Of additional note is “The slippery slope of evaluation: Ethics, issues, & methodological challenges using the case study of a housing development” by JoDee Keller at Pacific Lutheran University which discusses the impact on various populations including persons with disabilities of public housing development in the United States Pacific Northwest.

“Nothing about Article 33.3 CRPD without us!”

Data collection on the involvement of persons with disabilities

According to Article 33.3 UN CRPD Civil society, in particular persons with disabilities and their representative organizations shall be involved and participate fully in the monitoring process of the Convention. Article 4.3 UN CRPD refers to the importance of involving persons with disabilities in all policy – and decision making processes concerning issues relating to their lives. Preamble (o) also emphasizes that persons with disabilities should be actively involved in decision-making processes, policies and programmes, including those directly concerning them.

Referring to the paradigm shift and to the slogan “Nothing about us without us!” the effective and active involvement of persons with disabilities should be considered as one of the key elements of successful implementation of the CRPD. Most Member States are still in the process of establishing their Article 33.2 framework to promote, protect and monitor the implementation of the CRPD therefore it is very important to ensure the participation of DPOs from the very first stage. Our knowledge is very limited on what kind of initiatives or good practices are taking place in the Member States in order to provide active involvement instead of formal consultations for persons with disabilities.

The aim of this research is to collect qualitative data directly from members of the disability movement on the current National level participation and to explore key elements of effective and active involvement.

Keeping in mind that no one, but persons with disabilities can contribute the best in designing indicators which could measure effectiveness of their participation, the concept and structure of the questionnaire was developed in an inclusive way in close consultation with the disability movement. The questionnaire is now open to answer until 29 June 2012. The study which will analyze contribution received from members of the disability movement could be useful in terms of exchanging experiences on good practices and also to discover common struggles and gaps in the National level involvement.

The questionnaire is available on the website of the European Disability Forum:

If you feel your voice should be taken into account, please answer the questionnaire and send it back to one of the following e-mail addresses by 29 June:

Thank you for your cooperation. 

Zero Project

""In January I had the privilege of attending the Zero Project’s International Conference on Good Policies for Persons with Disabilities in Vienna, Austria. The conference was an amazing success. Not only were the discussions and presentations inspirational, the facilities and amenities were outstanding. I personally got the fantastic opportunity to connect with people doing some excellent research, Anna Lawson, and advocacy work, Colin Low.

The Zero Project has recently put forward nominations for outstanding policies and examples of good practices under the principles of the UN CRPD right of persons with disabilities to work. I encourage everyone to please make their contribution to this effort.

Thanks to the Essl Foundation and the World Future Council for facilitating such a phenomenal initiative!