May 12, 2016

World Learning is the proud recipient of InterAction 2015 Disability Inclusion Award, given during the annual InterAction Forum in Washington, DC. World Learning also helped highlight the importance of inclusion at the forum with a workshop on the benefits of disability partnerships in international programs.

Sam Worthington, president and CEO of InterAction, presented the award to World Learning President and CEO Donald Steinberg, Program Officer Amy Reid, and SIT Graduate Institute alumna and disability rights advocate Justice Shorter on June 23.

Worthington called disability inclusion a “critical” issue for many of InterActions member organizations and the entire international development field. He said the award recognizes World Learning’s commitment to forging partnerships with civic institutions, governments, and international organizations to advocate for disability rights and inclusion and “that disability plays a full and central role in what they are as an institution.”

Steinberg accepted the award on behalf of World Learning and said the organization is “conscious” and “purposeful” in addressing disability issues in four areas; including people with disabilities as program planners and implementers in addition to beneficiaries, mainstreaming disability issues across all programs, being a good partner and thought leader within the disability inclusion space, and ensuring World Learning’s own accessibility and commitment to accommodations.

Steinberg noted programs can’t effectively address major issues such as healthcare, education, and housing, without the input of the one billion people around the world with disabilities. He said including people with disabilities in everything World Learning does has numerous benefits for the organization, including “the diverse views they bring, from the ground truth that they provide, and from their own contributions.”

David Morrissey, executive director of the US International Council on Disabilities, speaks during the inclusion workshop.

World Learning also highlighted inclusion issues by hosting a workshop on strengthening international programs through disability inclusion partnerships. The workshop featured a panel discussion with Steinberg; Shorter; and Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo, disability advisor for the World Bank Group, moderated by David Morrissey, executive director of the US International Council on Disabilities (USCID) and a member of World Learning’s Global Advisory Council.

Morrissey opened the session by saying it is important for people with disabilities and organizations focused on disability issues to work together on inclusion initiatives.

“When we come together, we’re a group that can’t be ignored,” he said.

After the panel, participants engaged in lively roundtable discussions with representatives from organizations working on disability issues to share partnership stories and ideas for new forms of collaboration. McClain-Nhlapo, Morrissey, and Steinberg represented their organizations in addition to Luisa Angelsmith of World Learning, Jennifer Collins-Foley and Susan Steele of Mobility International USA (Collins-Folley is also senior incisive development specialist at World Learning), Diego Mariscal of 2Together International, Ted Mauro of ED101, and Joan Timoney of the Women’s Refugee Commission. Members of the McLain Association for Children in Tbilisi, Georgia, also joined the conversations via Skype. Discussions focused on eight different themes including advocacy, capacity building, refugees with disabilities, women with disabilities, and youth and disability pride.

Morrissey closed the session by reiterating the importance of partnerships and collaboration.

“The only way we’re going to make traction for people with disabilities is through solidarity.” he said.