Author Archives: Elizabeth Lockwood

Elizabeth Lockwood

About Elizabeth Lockwood

Elizabeth Lockwood is the CBM Representative at the United Nations in New York. Elizabeth focuses on developing advocacy strategies to raise awareness, network, build capacity, and lobby for the rights of persons with disabilities at the UN level in relation to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Inclusive Development. She also coordinates efforts of mainstreaming persons with disabilities in Agenda 2030 and conducts research and writes briefs to assist with strategies for the inclusion of persons with disabilities. Elizabeth has lived and worked in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and the Navajo Nation engaging in disability-focused grassroots activism and broader policymaking with emphasis on inclusive strategies and systematic change through advocacy, collaboration, and awareness. She holds a Ph.D. in Disability Studies and is fluent in Spanish and five sign languages.

The first International Day of Sign Languages!

I’m writing this blog to celebrate the first annual UN International Day of Sign Languages (IDSL), celebrated today, September 23rd as part of the International Week of the Deaf (IWDeaf) from 23-30 September. This year’s theme is “With Sign Language, Everyone is Included!” You can learn more about this from the World Federation of the Deaf here. This celebratory day is the result of resolution A/RES/72/161 (International Sign version here) that was adopted officially adopted on 19 December 2017 by the United Nations General Assembly.

The resolution acknowledges that early access to sign language and services in sign language, including quality education available in sign language, is vital to the growth and development of the deaf individual and critical to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. It recognizes the importance of preserving sign languages as part of linguistic and cultural diversity, emphasizes the principle of “nothing about us without us” in terms of working with deaf communities, and affirms that sign language is of critical importance for full realization of human rights for deaf people.

This celebration ties in nicely with the opening of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly this week. The newly elected President is María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés who is the first woman from Latin America and the Caribbean to preside over the Assembly. In addition, the rights of persons with disabilities, which includes the right to sign language, is one of the seven priorities of her presidency.

This is a very special blog for me since sign language has been part of my life since I was young. I first learned American Sign Language and then went on to learn Nicaraguan, Dutch, Japanese, and Uruguayan Sign Languages from working with the deaf communities in these countries. I also worked with deaf Native Americans while living on the Navajo Nation. For many years I was a teacher at deaf schools throughout the US and in other countries, also engaged in participatory action research with deaf communities, including my doctoral research that explored deaf community activism in Uruguay. In all of these experiences around the world, the key thread that consistently emerged was – access to, the use of, and official recognition of – sign language.

Deaf children who have full-time access to quality education in sign language thrive and excel, and this is important at all ages from early access onward. Through my interviews with deaf leaders and community members in Uruguay, I found that deaf community empowerment, leadership, and activism stem from a common sign language, shared identities, and culture. Indeed, sign language and deaf culture strengthen multilingualism and are means of promoting, protecting and preserving diversity of languages and cultures globally. In the end, sign language is a critical prerequisite to the full realization of human rights for deaf people.

In my work with CBM I have the wonderful opportunity to collaborate with the World Federation of the Deaf at the United Nations as well as with deaf partners from around the world, including from Bolivia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Panama, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, Venezuela, and more. Collaborative efforts have focused on creating a more accessible United Nations for deaf and hard of hearing participants, building partnerships with deaf communities and in countries where we work, and exchanging information on global, regional, and national development processes. A recent example is my presentation on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to the Deaf Association in Zurich in collaboration with CBM Switzerland. You can read more about CBM’s work with deaf communities here. 

Below is a wonderful example of national sign languages being used at the United Nations, including Finnish, Ugandan, Colombian, and Australian Sign Languages (from the UN Partnership Exchange on SDGs in July 2017, read more here about our involvement).

I’ll conclude this blog with a video of our deaf partner in Indonesia, Ms. Juniati and me in which we respectively sign our names and where we are from in American and Indonesian Sign Languages (Jakarta, Indonesia, November 2015).

The HLPF is over, now what?

The High-level Political Forum took place from 9-18 July and focused on transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under review included 6, 7, 11, 12, 15, and 17. During the second week, 46 countries presented their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) on SDG implementation. During these VNR presentations, persons with disabilities were included 36 times largely stemming from advocacy from various stakeholders at the global, regional, and national levels via the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities.

Alt="Our DPO partner, Mohammed Loutfy, speaking about persons with disabilities in Lebanon to Ghasan Hasbani Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health of Lebanon at the HLPF"

Our DPO partner, Mohammed Loutfy, speaking about persons with disabilities to Ghasan Hasbani Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health of Lebanon at the HLPF

 

The 36 references include references to persons with disabilities in VNR presentations, civil society presentations with questions to the government, and/or government responses to other government or civil society questions. The countries in bold are where CBM was directly or indirectly involved in advocacy. Thank you to everyone who helped in this process!

 

 

 

Andorra, Australia, Bahamas, Benin, Cabo Verde, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Greece, Ireland, Jamaica, Kiribati, Lao PDR, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Namibia, Niger, Palestine, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sudan, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, and Vietnam.

Now that the HLPF has concluded, it is important for DPOs and advocates to follow up with their government to assess outcomes and build partnerships at the national level. Not all countries have HLPF follow-up mechanisms in place, but it is important to remind political leaders that this is not a one-time obligation, but rather that this needs to be an ongoing permanent dialogue. The national follow-up mechanism should be a constructive approach to address issues raised in the global-level review process, or issues that have been left out. The following are some key points on how to initiate and participate in a follow-up process after the HLPF at the national level:

  • Watch your country’s voluntary national review on UN Web TV and in addition analyze the submissions (short and long) written reports (in some cases the reports differ from the presentations). On the basis of the analysis, prepare an advocacy paper highlighting issues that were addressed and also those left out.
  • Find out if there is a follow-up mechanism on the HLPF planned by your government.
  • (Re)connect with mainstream civil society coalitions to collaborate and propose to the government to establish a follow-up mechanism.
  • Contact and arrange meetings with the Ministry/Minister who presented at the HLPF with your advocacy paper prepared (refer above).
  • Advocate to establish synergies with other existing national follow-up or review mechanisms, such as national consultations on the SDG implementation plan, national development plan (often linked to the SDGs), and national human rights review mechanisms.
  • Propose a partnership to your government and consider engaging with the International Disability Alliance and International Disability and Development Consortium Partnership on SDGs.

These suggestions are from the CBM and International Disability Alliance Toolkit for DPOs on the Voluntary National Reviews.

Additional Information:

Resilient societies, the SDGs, and leaving no one behind

Resilient societies, the SDGs, and leaving no one behind

The High-level Political Forum took place from 9-18 July at the UN in New York with the theme of “transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies.” The Goals under review included 6, 7, 11, 12, 15, and 17. The first week of the Forum included numerous panels and round tables focused on the theme and the SDGs under review and the second week provided the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs).

On a very positive note for persons with disabilities and accessibility, Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes, the UN’s Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility presented in the opening of the Forum. Her presentation focused on different areas, including accessibility. For example, she stated that if technology is not accessible, it will become one more barrier for millions of people throughout the world, such as, persons with disabilities, older persons and other sectors. In addition, persons with disabilities made up a large group at the Forum with 31 participants with disabilities and advocates from around the world as part of the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities.

Alt="Participants of the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities at HLPF 2018"

Participants of the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities at HLPF 2018

CBM co-sponsored a side event the first week with the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities and others on Goal 11: Inclusion of persons with disabilities in societies. The event was very well attended with 70 attendees and had an interactive and lively dialogue.

During the second week, 46 countries presented their national reviews of SDG implementation. During these three Ministerial days of VNR presentations, persons with disabilities were included 36 times. In addition, some national videos included captions, one video (from Ireland) included a deaf child signing, and Namibia included a Namibian Sign Language interpreter on the screen for its entire video!

Also, six persons with disabilities presented official statements with questions to countries during their VNRs, including to Greece, Lebanon, Malta, Namibia, Niger, and Switzerland. One of our participants from the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities presented questions to Namibia in International Sign, which was the first time this was done during a VNR at the UN.

Alt="Our DPO partner from Vietnam, Lan Anh, presented various times during the Forum"

Our DPO partner from Vietnam, Lan Anh, presented various times during the Forum

 

 

On 18 July, the 2018 HLPF Ministerial Declaration was adopted with three references to persons with disabilities: on disaggregated data (para 18), commitment to leave no one behind (para 11), and in WASH (para 23).

 

 

 

As the focal point on accessibility for the HLPF, long-term collaboration with the UN produced positive outcomes during the Forum, including:

  • Wheelchair users had access CR 4 on the ground floor and Trusteeship Council Chamber on the second floor for access to the presentations;
  • CART services were provided in person, online, and on webcast for all eight days of the HLPF;
  • Seating was reserved for persons with disabilities in all rooms being used;
  • The UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform was accessible;
  • Persons with disabilities and their personal assistants were able to register and obtain passes easily and personal assistants were not considered participants (when there was a maximum number permitted);
  • International Sign was provided for three days at the Ministerial Segment;
  • Documents and presentations were shared prior to events for CART providers and sign language interpreters;
  • The HLPF agenda and other documents were provided in Braille;
  • The UN set up an accessibility walk-through in advance of the HLPF;
  • The UN staff positively collaborated with us in various areas (room, technology, accessibility services, and interpretation).

A very big thanks to the UN for this work and positive collaboration that we hope continues and also continues to improve to ensure no one is left behind.

COSP is kicking off soon!

The 11th session of the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD and related events are kicking off soon at the UN in New York (10-15 June). The overarching theme of the session is Leaving no one behind through the full implementation of the CRPD with sub-themes including:

  1. National fiscal space, public-private partnerships and international cooperation for strengthening the implementation of the CRPD;
  2. Women and girls with disabilities;
  3. Political participation and equal recognition before the law; and
  1. Promoting high-quality disability statistics and disaggregation of data by disability status for the full realization of the rights of persons with disabilities.

CBM is quite active this year. We are involved in various ways in six side events, a data workshop, and an SDGs training. We are supporting two of our DPO partners, from Palestine and Vietnam, who are panelists at different events throughout the week. Additionally we will present an official CBM statement during the General Debate among Member States and civil society. You can watch events from 11-14 June live here. Please continue reading below for events in which CBM is involved.

Sunday, 10 June

  • Workshop: on the Measurement of Disability organized by UNICEF, ILO, IDA, and IDDC; Elizabeth Lockwood will be co-facilitating this training.

Monday, 11 June

  • Civil society forum / day of general discussion session, Panel on Article 4 (3) of the Convention, our partner from Palestine, Shatha Abu Srour, is a panelist.

Tuesday, 12 June

  • General Debate, David Bainbridge, International Director, CBM International, will present our official CBM statement.
  • Event: Co-sponsored by CBM: Artificial Intelligence 2030: Transformative Inclusion for All event, David Bainbridge will make an official intervention.
  • Event: If I’m not counted I don’t count. better data to improve the lives of persons with disabilities; joint CBM-IDA SDG data work will be presented.
  • Event: Co-sponsored by CBM: Persons with Disabilities in Emergency Settings: Ensuring the rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities within humanitarian emergencies and peacebuilding processes; joint CBM-HI-IDA project will be presented.

Wednesday 13 June

  • Event: Co-organized by CBM: Including the most likely to be left behind: Women and Girls with Disabilities in rural and remote settings; our partner from Vietnam, Lan Anh Nguyen, is a panelist.
  • COSP Roundtable 1: National fiscal space, public-private partnerships and international cooperation for strengthening the implementation of the CRPD; our partner from Palestine, Shatha Abu Srour, is a panelist.
  • Event: Co-sponsored by CBM: Financing the implementation of the CRPD: problems of inconsistency and instability with a focus on experiences of women and refugees with disabilities; Emma Pettey, Emergency Response Unit, will present on behalf of CBM.
  • Event: Co-sponsored by CBM: From Recognition to Realisation of Rights: Furthering Effective Partnership for an Inclusive Pacific.

Friday 15 June

  • Follow-up training on SDG implementation and practical advocacy strategies for DPOs for Disability Rights Fund; Elizabeth Lockwood will co-facilitate the training.

Stay tuned for the follow-up web article post COSP with highlights from the aforementioned activities.