Global Disability Rights Library - Bringing Knowledge to Peruvian Disability Rights Advocates

The Ann Sullivan Center in Lima, Peru works daily to help its students and their communities make the rights of people with disabilities visible to society and the government. This internationally-known organization is at the forefront of research and education for people with disabilities. Because of this, the Ann Sullivan Center was one of the first organizations in the world to receive a Global Disability Rights Library, an off-line collection of over 2 million digital resources funded by USAID and compiled by experts in the field.

Currently, the GDRL has installation sites in Peru, Nigeria, Zambia, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and India. WiderNet will finish installing the 60 Global Disability Rights Libraries by June of this year

Peru’s Ann Sullivan Center (CASP) currently uses the GDRL with students, their families, and professionals around the world. Founded in 1979 by Dr. Liliana Mayo, the Ann Sullivan Center aims to help people with different abilities. “We are a center that has four objectives,” Mayo said, and explained her center focuses on independence for its students, inclusion within the community, work with families and professional training.

“We have the largest school of families in the world because we educate more than 400 families every 50 days, so they can be partners with us in the education of their children and be the best parent-teacher for their sons and daughters,” Mayo said.

CASP trains more than 1,000 people each month nationally and internationally as well as conducting research. The video-conferencing software they use allowed them to educate over 19,000 parents, professionals and people that have issues with disability. “We are sharing our experience with the GDRL with other countries,” Mayo said.

“We are finding discrimination when our students and other people with disability go to public places,” Mayo commented. CASP finds that trouble arises because people don’t know how to properly assist people with different abilities in hospitals and on airplanes. Because of this, the people at the Ann Sullivan Center are working with organizations that help fight for disability rights in their country to help alleviate those issues. “The GDRL has permitted us to look up information on attitudes on people with different abilities,” Mayo said.

Julio Chojeda, a person with spinal muscular atrophy and an employee at CASP, uses the library regularly to find information about his condition and how to communicate with others about his disability. “I have to know how to deal with people who don’t relate to me, how to hire people and how to resolve other problems,” Chojeda said. “I persist in my struggle and knock on doors to get what I need to cope with increasing disability while working and helping other people to fight for their rights.”

With over 175 employees and volunteers at the Ann Sullivan Center, the team works tirelessly to fulfill the four objectives of the center, while underscoring inclusion for its students and all persons with disability.

“We are starting to make a fight here about discrimination,” Mayo said. She explained the information and manuals found in the GDRL are the tools that are needed to help address current issues on disability rights in her country. “We want to see what other countries have done and we want to help disseminate all the steps a person could take when they experience discrimination,” Mayo said. “I think, in our country, we have a lot of issues about rights, so I think the GDRL will be a very helpful reference for our people.”

“To go to a library that specializes in disability is going to be a benefit for everyone,” Dr. Mayo said. She hopes that the GDRL will be able to help her educate families and students on how to advocate for themselves and others within the community. “The GDRL is going to help us make a small curriculum about how our students and families should fight for their rights.”

Although the government in Peru has laws to include persons with disabilities, Dr. Mayo and her staff at CASP have found the government does little to enforce the laws. “Still we need to educate society more about the rights of differently-abled people,” Mayo said. Dr. Mayo hopes the introduction of the GDRL will bring change on this issue. “We would love for our students to use the information they find on the GDRL,” Mayo said.

“With all the information we have in the GDRL, we make it possible to teach our students how better to advocate and it will cut down on time to find all these manuals if we have all this information in one place,” Mayo said. “I think if people are going to be included for life, it makes much more of an impact to hear a person with disability than a professional speaking; it gives them a voice.”

Melani Los Santos Rivera, Administrative Assistant of Project and Research Area at CASP, explained that there is community interest in the GDRL. “We have some people who come here to use the eGranary, but we have only a few PC computers,” Mayo said. The lack of computers makes it difficult to share as much information as they’d like with the community.

"There is a lot of opportunity with the GDRL ahead of us," said David Morrissey, Executive Director of USICD. "The GDRL is an excellent resource for communities at large." Morrissey looks forward to seeing the GDRL help people bring disability rights to national level discussion in many countries. “I want the library to raise visibility to positively impact people with disabilities at the local level,” Morrissey said.