ICI (UCEDD MA) Staffers Attend Disability Meeting at United Nations

October 31, 2013

Three staff members from UMass Boston's School for Global Inclusion and Social Development (SGI) and the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) were selected as delegates to the United Nations (UN) High-level Meeting on Disability and Development. Dean of the SGI William Kiernan was at the event, as well as Executive Leadership and Systems Manager of the ICI Lisa Blunt Rochester, and IREX Fellow Sagar Prasain. The meeting was convened to discuss how disability relates to the UN's Millennium Development Goals, and the importance of addressing disability rights within the UN's post-2015 development agenda.

Among the attendees were UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary of State John Kerry, and singer and UN Messenger of Peace Stevie Wonder. According to Kiernan, the goal of the meeting was to create a concise, action-oriented outcome document aimed at strengthening efforts of the international community to ensure accessibility for and inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of UN development efforts. "This was a great opportunity to hear progress to date of member countries and to connect with other global NGOs, self-advocacy organizations, and institutions of higher education,"commented Rochester. "It showed a strong commitment to including people with disabilities in the UN's future goals." Prasain agreed: "The UN's Millennium Development Goals, which go through 2015, didn't even include the word "disability." By bringing disability into the discussion, we're taking one step closer toward full inclusion on a global scale." "With the launching of our School for Global Inclusion and Social Development, we are expanding our international footprint and contacts," Kiernan added. "This meeting connected staff from the school to international advocates and policy-makers, all of whom have an interest in disability and social inclusion."

Watch a video of Stevie Wonder talking about disability inclusion: http://www.un.org/en/ga/68/meetings/disability/. Read the UN's article about the event and its significance: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=45931&Cr=mdg&Cr1#.UnKNnCTykX5. Read and watch Secretary of State Kerry's remarks: http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2013/09/214538.htm.