IFES Signs Global Disability Summit Charter for Change

IFES President Bill Sweeney holds a sign that says, "The reason I've signed the Charter for Change is so every voice is heard and every vote is counted."

On July 24, the United Kingdom Department for International Development, the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and the Government of Kenya will host the first-ever Global Disability Summit in London, United Kingdom. The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), represented by IFES President Bill Sweeney, will participate, promoting the participation of men and women with disabilities in the electoral process as advocates and leaders.

IFES has signed the Charter for Change, the summit’s principal legacy document outlining actions that must be taken to ensure the rights, freedoms, dignity and inclusion for all persons with disabilities. All attending governments and organizations are making commitments to disability inclusion. IFES has committed the following:

  • IFES, in partnership with the Pacific Disability Forum and Pacific Islands Forum, will establish a regional network to empower people with disabilities to participate in elections and political processes. The network will draw on lessons learned and best practices from other regional networks, such as the General Election Network for Disability Access in Southeast Asia.
  • IFES is partnering with Gallaudet University’s Master’s Program in International Development and Department of Linguistics to develop an American Sign Language translation of IFES’ English-language electoral lexicon for www.ElectionAccess.org. The lexicon will include common political participation terminology. It will also include videos from electoral sign language lexicons developed in the following countries: Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and Zimbabwe. A graduate student from Gallaudet will join IFES for a practicum in September 2018 to begin work on the translation of the electoral lexicon. Interdisciplinary Gallaudet faculty will supervise the student’s output. It is expected that the lexicon will be finalized in early 2019.
  • IFES will systematically integrate disability into its Violence Against Women in Elections (VAWE) assessment framework. The framework identifies and addresses the unique issues related to gender-based election violence. Recognizing that women and girls with disabilities experience additional and different security barriers, IFES will develop new questions and guidance to ensure that women with disabilities are included in every VAWE analysis, including online sentiment analysis.
  • IFES will become a member the United States International Council on Disability (USICD), a network of organizations that promotes inclusion of disability perspectives in U.S. foreign policy and aid.

Sweeney and IFES Inclusion Advisor Virginia Atkinson will also participate in the Civil Society Forum organized by IDA on July 23. For more information about the Civil Society Forum, visit the IDA website here.