Opening Plenary

It’s your life: living and being included in communities across the globe

Join us as we discuss international views on inclusion. Inclusion International’s two year Campaign to promote Article 19 will culminate in this plenary with the launch of the Global Report on Living and Being Included in the Community – an international report that shares stories from self-advocates, families, and organizations from around the globe.

Our kick-off to Convention will also include a keynote address from Rosangela Berman-Bieler, Chief of the UNICEF Disability Section under the Gender, Rights and Civic Engagement Section, Program Division. She will speak about UNICEF’s ongoing work to support children with disabilities and to help them live inclusive lives in the community. We will conclude this session with a panel discussion featuring self-advocates and experts in the disability field discussing “What inclusion really means”.

*Presentation of The Arc’s Image and Inclusion Award to Don and Laurie Istook

Second Plenary

Creating Change: How advocacy and policy can come together

Advocacy is the key to creating true social change, which is why it is so important to share experiences, knowledge and best practices. This plenary will focus on advocacy efforts on the local, state, national, and international level. Eve Hill of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice will give the keynote address. U.S. Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez and his staff have made the implementation of Olmstead a priority and have helped further community inclusion in the United States.

Following the keynote address, there will be an open dialogue between experts from the United States, Hungary, and Ireland about different strategies being used to advance inclusion in communities around the world.

*Presentation of The Arc’s Advocacy Matters! Award to The Arc of VA

Closing Plenary

Key issues for living in the community: choice, support, and inclusion

Ricardo ThorntonThis session will feature a number of amazing speakers. Ricardo Thornton, a self-advocate, will open this session by speaking about the importance of choice, support, and inclusion in his own life and experiences. Ricardo works fulltime, is married and has a child. Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue will be accepting this year’s President’s Award and sharing his expertise about supports for individuals with disabilities in the United States. We will also view a video message from Delaware Governor Jack Markell, Chair of the National Governors Association who recently announced his chair’s initiative, A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities. Diane Richler, former President of Inclusion International and Vivian Fernández de Torrijos, former First Lady of Panama will speak together about what cultural differences around the world mean for inclusion.

To wrap things up, self-advocates will share thoughts about convention, and introduce a short video filmed on site that highlights individuals with I/DD who are living, working and achieving independence in communities around the world. This session will also feature an inclusive musical performance by ArtStream.

*Presentation of The Arc’s President’s Award Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security