The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2006, generates a paradigm shift and provides a framework for the development of innovative legal arguments on rights protections. The Open Society Disability Rights Initiative supports efforts to reform legal frameworks and policies to make the CRPD a reality.
Our approach is three-tiered:
Promote universalization of the CRPD.

Drill down into national implementation.

Focus on the most marginalizing practices and groups, with particular attention to groups experiencing multiple forms of discrimination based on intersecting identities.
Ineligibility Criteria
The Initiative will not fund the provision of direct services, apart from legal advocacy services. It will, however, support efforts to highlight or advocate for effective service delivery programs or to make changes in the legal framework that would facilitate service delivery.
Purpose and Priorities
Challenging Denial of Legal Capacity
In many countries, people with disabilities are stripped of the right to make important decisions about their lives, resulting in their “civil death.” The Initiative supports efforts to reform laws, policies, and practices so that people with disabilities can exercise their right to be recognized as a person before the law. We also support efforts to reform the network of laws impacting on legal capacity, such as election laws that deny voting rights.
Accessing Justice
Around the world, discriminatory attitudes and inaccessible investigative and testimonial procedures are barriers to justice for people with disabilities. To address this, the Initiative supports efforts to document the impact of inaccessible justice systems and provide adequate representation to people with disabilities, focusing on those in prisons and other locked facilities, and women, who are at greater risk of violence and abuse.
Ending Segregation
Institutions segregate people with disabilities from the community and limit opportunities for self-determination and individual choice. Moreover, egregious human rights violations, including torture and abuse, take place within institutions. Segregation also occurs when people with disabilities are prevented from participating in the community due to physical, communicational and attitudinal barriers. The Initiative supports efforts that challenge these types of segregation
Implementation Strategies
Cultivating Jurisprudence and Building a Community of Practice
To ensure legal remedies and an environment for challenging rights violations, the Initiative supports impact litigation and legal advocacy. In addition, our funding has expanded opportunities in legal education by increasing the capacity of law faculties to train disability rights professionals.
Evidence-Based Advocacy
Uprooting deeply entrenched discriminatory societal and legal structures, such as institutionalization, guardianship, and segregated education requires evidence about these structures and their impact on individuals’ lives. The Initiative supports work to document these discriminatory structures and build collaboration across disciplines.
Building Frameworks for Equality
Deeply-ingrained marginalizing practices require targeted legal efforts to uproot them. The Initiative supports endeavors to strengthen national equality frameworks and challenge discrimination through litigation and law reform.
Elevating Voices of the Most Marginalized
Too often, the most marginalized groups are excluded from participation in the disability community or denied the right to frame their issues. The Initiative works to empower people with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, women with disabilities, and other marginalized constituencies to speak in their own voice.
Guidelines
To apply for a grant from the Disability Rights Initiative, interested organizations should send an email to disabilityrights@osi-dc.org briefly outlining the proposed project. As we receive many more requests for funding than we can support, if you do not hear from us within 30 days, your proposal is not being considered.
Selected applicants will be invited to submit a concept paper.