America Solidaria: Promoting inclusion of people with disabilities

June 13, 2012


Official photo of panelists and participants of América Solidaria.

World Bank

  • Lenín Moreno, Vice President of Ecuador participated in "América Solidaria".
  • Representatives from 34 countries of the Americas attended the event.
  • America Solidaria was hold the 11th and the 12th of June in Quito.

Ecuadorean Vice-president Lenín Moreno has made it his mission to put people with disabilities on the inclusion agenda. After his recent visit to the World Bank in Washington, the idea arose to jointly organize the first continental meeting for inclusion of people with disabilities: América Solidaria. The meeting was held in Quito, Ecuador, on June 11-12.

The World Report on Disability estimates that more than a billion people live with some type of disability, in other words, about 15% of the global population. Moreover, the report states that this group is expanding around the world and that exclusion of this segment of society has a significant impact on countries’ development. Representatives from 34 countries attended the América Solidaria event, where experts from around the world discussed best practices and public policies for accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities.

Around the world

Scott Rains, an expert on inclusive tourism and accessibility and a panelist at the meeting, emphasized the need to adapt the tourism industry by applying a universal design that takes into account the needs of the largest human group possible. Good examples of this are urban transport systems such as the wheelchair-accessible Metropolitana bus line in Peru and the Braille information on handrails at the Charles de Gaulle Airport. Scott also emphasized how easy it is nowadays to share positive and negative experiences with respect to tourist destinations.

" Internet definitly helps people with disabilities because we travel by word of mouth. If I can show a picture of me doing something or being somewhere, then just, automatically, the person who is at my Blog or at my Facebook page knows they can get there or they can contact me and ask questions about it. For example, I have promoted some routes and places like Galapagos Islands or Quito in Ecuador.  "

Scott Rains

Expert in Accessible Tourism

The next steps

“Nothing for us without us,” said Susan Goldmark during her final intervention at the event. “It is essential to work together with civil society organizations; to create specific legislation to ensure that people can fully exercise their rights and contribute to their countries’ development; and to involve the private sector, particularly in job creation, like in the examples shared by Ignacio Bello Antolin of the Fundación Once.” These words echoed her commitment to incorporate the issue of disability in all interventions supported by the World Bank in Latin America.

During the closing ceremony, Vice-president Lenín Moreno announced that he will visit Haiti during the first week of July to share the experiences of the Manuela Espejo Solidarity Mission and the methodologies used to identify individuals with disabilities. Pedro Alba, World Bank director of strategy and operations for Latin America and the Caribbean, together with the Ecuadorean vice-president and Gerald Oriol Jr., Haiti’s secretary of state for the Integration of Disabled Persons, signed a memorandum of understanding to promote inclusion of people with disabilities and mutual support among their institutions.

For more information on América Solidaria, see AmericaSolidaria.net.