WID’s Current Initiatives-2019

For 35 years the World Institute on Disability has been dedicated to examining the cutting-edge issues faced by people with disabilities on a local and global scale. WID’s mission was built on a foundation of civil rights activism that its founders Ed Roberts, Judy Heumann, and Joan Leon embodied when they established this organization in 1983. The world that WID envisioned was one in which people with disabilities could lead fully integrated lives, void of barriers and institutionalized obstacles.

Today, WID’s current team of professionals, activists, and policymakers believes in this mission more than ever and we are always expanding our scope of knowledge to address the needs, wants, and opportunities of our changing world. Our policy and educational work centers around inclusion and universal design, and we are dedicated to the fight for equality. WID’s work addresses the diverse needs of the disability community for creative and innovative accommodations and solutions.

Painting depicting a scene of downtown Berkeley, including a wheelchair user with their service dog, as well as merchants selling jewelry at a street faire.
Section from a Patrick Connally painting inside the WID Berkeley office

2019 is going to be an exciting year for us. We are broadening the reach of long-term projects to encompass new initiatives that pinpoint barriers within the disability community. Our goal this year is to use our research to provide nuanced answers to the problems that hinder people with disabilities from living their lives to the fullest. Following are a number of 2019 initiatives we are excited to work on. You will find relevant links for each project in the descriptions if you wish to learn more about the work we do.


WID E3 is a disability empowerment model and set of resources created to provide valuable tools to job-seekers with disabilities to promote entrance into the workforce. Effective programs and resources have been developed by WID’s subject matter experts to support the dynamic nature of working with a disability. These components are suitable for use by special education, post-secondary, rehabilitation, workforce, independent living programs, and individuals with disabilities. WID E3 materials can also help both family members and related professionals become more effective. WID E3’s components are designed to be added to existing employment efforts, either in whole or in part.

The model is divided into three focuses to offer comprehensive information about career and savings integrity. These are the Employment, Economic, and Disability Benefit Empowerment programs. For complete access to these navigational tools, follow through to the WID E3 main page.

Disaster Preparation and Resilience

Environmental research is the foundation for WID’s climate change initiative New Earth Disability (NED). The primary concern of this project is to identify challenges for the disability community posed by climate change and establish the best responses to these issues. NED works to educate the public and involve various stakeholders to ensure concrete resources for people with disabilities as natural disasters and environmental change persists.

NED is kicking off 2019 with a new project consulting the Metropolitan Transportation Commission on how to improve city infrastructure to enable people with disabilities to live active, dynamic lives. Our team regularly presents to community partners on our research findings, and these platforms and connections will be implemented to focus on transportation-centered concerns. This project is state funded and will examine topics such as disability-centered evacuation during wildfire disasters and improved paratransit reliability.

International Development and Capacity Building

The New Leaders Fellowship Initiative is a program built on WID’s role as a host organization for fellows from the Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI).  WID facilitates opportunities to share best practices, to start dialogues about common issues around disability, and to view the bigger picture of disability worldwide.

DPO Leadership and Management Training is a worldwide capacity building initiative to facilitate the growth and prevalence of Disabled Persons Organizations through knowledge transfer and education in advocacy, development and funding. The International project works with NGOs providing essential services in developing and conflict-ridden countries to build policies and practices into NGO services that include individuals with disabilities.  WID focuses particularly on services related to DPOs and organizations focused on climate change, peace-building and Employment.

Find more about WID’s international initiatives and programs on the World Programs site.

Accessibility Consulting

Here at WID, we believe that accessibility should be an inherent aspect of design to include people with disabilities as participants, clients, and subscribers. Technology and services often require upgrades to better accommodate disability-related needs such as assistive device compatibility or multiple learning-style models of information sharing. Our team of consultants works with organizations to educate their service developers on how to improve their products and better serve the disability community long-term. This project is called Accessibility Consulting.

The accessibility projects focus on three main areas. The Business and Industry initiative partners with the financial, technology, educational Software, and consulting arenas to expand their ability to provide accessible services to their clients and employees. The User Testing initiative focuses on webpage and app accessibility in order to provide information to developers and distributors on the accessibility and usability of products. Lastly, the Conference Accessibility project sends WID staff to national conferences with a total attendance of more than 5,000 people. Our goal is to make these conferences accessible and relevant for people with disabilities, while also educating the conference organizers about disability barriers and accommodations.

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