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UK takes place on world stage of disability empowerment

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The UK is set to shape global attitudes to disability access as it welcomes more than 40 disability and inclusion experts from around the world at this year’s Rehabilitation International World Congress (RIWC), which opens today (25 October) at Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

The Congress is hosted by disability employment charity Shaw Trust, and will seek to influence disability and inclusion policy at a global level by delivering speeches, workshops and plenaries to delegates from some 60 countries including China, India, Germany, Hong Kong and Israel.

This year’s focus is ‘inclusion’ and will examine how disability empowerment and inclusion for all ages can help transform the world through employment, education and training, independent living, international relations and sport.

Man with Spinal Cord Injury sorting tools on construction siteThe UK’s Minister for Disability, Work and Health, Penny Mordaunt, who will addressing the Congress, said: “People with disabilities can often face disadvantages in society, despite having valuable skills and talents to offer. That’s why this event is crucial in promoting disability empowerment and shaping global attitudes.

“I look forward to visiting Edinburgh and hearing from others from across the world about how we can break down the barriers that people with disabilities face.”

Shaw Trust CEO Roy O Shaughnessy. Photograph Credit: Robert Smith

Roy O’Shaughnessy, Shaw Trust’s Chief Executive, said: “People with disabilities have more to offer than they are currently being asked to contribute, and this conference will help us set in motion transformative and world-changing policies and practices to help bring those with disabilities into the mainstreams of work, life and sport.

“Scotland has much to celebrate in terms of disability empowerment. But as always, more can, and should, be done. Hosting this event is a great way for Scotland to solidify its participation and influence in disability inclusion across the world.”

Dr Stephen Duckworth, Chair of the 2016 RI World Congress Programme Board, said: “It’s crucial we co-operate globally to ensure countries all over the world work towards a common goal of continually improving rights and access for disabled people everywhere.
“By hosting this event, Scotland and the UK will play a significant role in helping influence global policies, while also showcasing its positive record on promoting equality and inclusion.”

RIWC will run for three days at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, finishing on Thursday 27th October.

Today’s keynote speakers include UK’s Minister for Disability, Work and Health, Penny Mordaunt, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and HRH The Princess Royal.

Ministers from Germany, India and Hong Kong are also set to attend and contribute to the three-day event, which has a long history of shaping international policy through co-operation and shared responsibility between states.

Rehabilitation International, also known as RI Global, is the charity which introduced the International Symbol of Access in 1969. Founded in 1922 to further the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities, it coordinates a membership of 100+ international organisations, which all work together to advocate for a fully inclusive world.