The Harkin International Disability Employment Summit

Creating Careers and Professions for People with Disabilities

In his second bill of rights speech, Franklin Roosevelt said that everyone has “the right to a useful and remunerative job.” Yet for the vast majority of those with disabilities, no matter where they are born, a job seems unattainable, not because of inability, but because of a severe lack of opportunity and access.

Employment is the key to independence and economic sustainability, and our Summit meets to ensure that the world’s largest minority, people with disabilities, get a fair shot.

The Summit convenes high-level representatives and grassroots implementers from around the world—all working to increase the employment of people with disabilities. Many of the reasons for action are obvious: for example, excluding people with disabilities from the global workforce deprives society of $1.4-1.9 billion of annual GDP, according to a 2007 ILO report.

At the Harkin International Disability Employment Summit, representatives from business, disability advocacy, government, education, foundations, and NGOs bring their lessons from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, and the Americas to identify and create strategies to increase the employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

The Summit will:

  • Link international leaders in the field of disability employment who have been successful at employing people with disabilities
  • Identify strategies for increasing disability employment around the world
  • Achieve enhanced knowledge for expanding disability employment in a multitude of settings
  • Honor those who pioneered innovative approaches to ensuring that people with disabilities have access to useful and remunerative jobs

By galvanizing and leveraging a selection of global leaders who have been successful at employing people with all types of disabilities, or adapting policies to encourage others to do so, we’ll begin to close the chasm between people with disabilities, and productive, dignified work.

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