Category Archives: Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Including the voice of people with disabilities in public consultations on constitutional and electoral reforms

Including the voice of people with disabilities in public consultations on constitutional and electoral reforms

Enabled Elections Coalition, together with the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) and
International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), organised an advocacy
Meeting that will bring together organizations, interest groups and individuals engaged in disability
Rights and inclusion at the International Centre for Ethnic Studies in February 2016. The aim of this advocacy meeting was to mobilize disability rights stakeholders to ensure that the new constitution and related electoral reforms uphold the rights of Persons with Disabilities, recognize Persons with Disabilities as equal citizens, and promote the political engagement of Persons with Disabilities as voters and elected leaders.
CMEV was a Co-Convener and facilitator of the 2015 island-wide campaign ‘Enabled Elections’, which
Was spearheaded in tandem with the General Elections. This short but focused campaign was able to
Mobilize Persons with Disabilities to exercise their vote and seek accessibility provisions where
Needed. The campaign’s primary goal was to increase voter turnout of Persons with Disabilities by
Creating awareness about the circular number PE 164/2015 issued by the Commissioner of Elections
In May 2015. This Circular advised all the Assistant Commissioners to ensure that ‘reasonable access’
Is provided for voters living with a disability. The ‘Enabled Elections’ campaign was a 􀏐first in sensitizing
All citizens of Sri Lanka about the political rights and access to polling stations for People With
Similarly, IFES has worked on programs across South Asia and worldwide to empower Persons With
Disabilities and civil society organizations to advocate for their electoral and political rights in keeping
With the international standards laid out in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With
CMEV, IFES and other groups believe that the constitutional and electoral reform process provides a
Critical opportunity for individuals and groups to collectively advocate for disability inclusive policies.
The purpose of the advocacy meeting was to discuss strategies on including
The voices of Persons with Disabilities in the new constitution drafting process in the country.
Ms. Manique Gunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Network on Disability participated for this discussion to promote rights of persons with disabilities for the drafting of the new constitution.

Picture descriptions:

1 Group of of participants
2 Pannalists at the discussion.panel discussion
3 Participants at the programme.participants

Manique Gunaratne
Vice Chair Person – South Asian Disability Forum

Sri lanka ratify the united nations convention on rights of persons with disabilities (uncrpd)

Sri lanka ratify the united nations convention on rights of persons with disabilities (uncrpd)


It was a really happy moment for all persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka when the good news of ratification of the United Nations Convention on rights of Persons with Disabilities was heard.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an instrument that assists Governments of member states to bring about the change required in society and within the country to accept persons with disabilities as citizens with equal rights.

Sri Lanka signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities in March 2007. After a period of 8 years Cabinet approval was sought for and obtained last year.

The purpose of this comprehensive and integral international convention is to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.  Sri Lanka was one of the first countries to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities or CRPD[i]. The then Minister of Social Services was at the UN Headquarters in New York on 30th March 2007, the day it was open for signature.  With its signature Sri Lanka agreed “to refrain in good faith from acts that would defeat the object and purpose of the treaty”.

The delay has kept Sri Lankans with disabilities waiting too long on the fringes of Society. Ratification and implementation of the CRPD will pave the way for the upliftment of their quality of life; it will move them away from vulnerability and marginalization to the mainstream of development and to a better life with a brighter future.

After 9 long years of great work of advocacy and lobbying by persons with disabilities, disable people’s organisations, civil society and all parties concerned, on 8th February 2016 Sri Lanka ratified the UNCRPD.



Executive Committee Member – Asian blind Union

[i]     UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;

The british council TOGETHER WITH THE EMPLOYERS’ FEDERATION OF CEYLON includes persons with disabilities

The british council TOGETHER WITH THE EMPLOYERS’ FEDERATION OF CEYLON includes persons with disabilities

The British Council is a British organisation specializing in international educational and cultural opportunities. It is registered as a charity in England, Wales and Scotland. It is committed to offer learning facilities not only for the ordinary, but also for people with disabilities. Hence, EFC ICT Training Centre for persons with disabilities conducted an audit with regard to accessibility.
The technical aim of this audit was to provide a feedback to British Council on arranging a barrier-free safe environment for those with disabilities to access resources of British Council. This audit was conducted considering the fact that there are regular visitors to British Council premises which includes members of its library, students, visitors and employees.
The requirement for the Accessibility audit was resulted from the learning of the two workshops which were conducted for the British Council by The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) in November 2015 with regard to disability etiquette, the right way to handle persons with disabilities and accessibility measures for the workplace.
The Access audit was conducted by Ms. Manique Gunaratne (vision impaired) from The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Network on Disability and by Mr. Cyril Siriwardane (Wheel chair user).

Manique Gunaratne
Executive Committee Member – Daisy Lanka Foundation

Developing advocacy policies for persons with disabilities

Developing advocacy policies for persons with disabilities


Many people with disabilities do not identify themselves as disabled or choose not to be part of a politically active community of disabled persons. Advocacy is both the barriers to the formation of a social movement of disabled people and the ways in which these barriers have been overcome. The role of public policy in the evolution of this movement is discussed, as are the current status and prospects of the disability rights movement. It is very important for persons with disabilities to fight for their own rights. Long time ago it was the charity based model which was adopted in the society. Then it was the medical based model. There after it turned out to social based model. The modern trend is the rights based model. Developing advocacy policies is very important for the way forward. Leading disability activist from South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East were selected to develop the advocacy policy. Ms. ManiqueGunaratne from The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Network on Disability represented this workshop. The participant team was highly knowledgeable. Therefore the outcome was good. The workshop was held at Radisson Blue Martinez Hotel in Beirut, Lebanon. It was not just a workshop. The policy developed in December 2015 will be used for future reference.


Picture descriptions:

1 Day 1 of the workshop day 1

2 Day 2 of the workshop day 2

3 Day 3 of the workshop day 3





‘Working together to promote diversity and inclusion
focusing on people with disabilities’


It was an evening to bring together people with disabilities and people with not yet with a disability. It is nothing about us without us. Always it should be inclusion. Leonard Cheshire Disability and Western Seaton Cheshire Home, Negomboorganised a conference on ‘Working together to promote diversity and inclusion focusing on people with disabilities at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute in November 2015. The welcome address was by Mr. Anthony Fernando,

Chairman, Leonard Cheshire Disability -Regional Council –Asia and

National Council- Sri Lanka.Ms. RevathyRugmini, Regional Representative, Leonard Cheshire Disability Asia and Pacific spoke on Setting the Context. Inaugural address was done by Major General GaminiHettiarachchi (retd), Chairman/CEO of Vocational Training Authority. Dr. SanthiyapillaiKeethaponkalan, Manager, Wester Seaton Cheshire Home spoke on the Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities – Initiatives of Wester Seaton Cheshire Homes. The presentation on Inclusion matters – focusing on empowerment of people of all abilities was done by Advocate of Design for Inclusion and Accessibility Advisor,Dr. Ajith C S Perera. Mr. Sydney Dabare,Principal, German Technical Training Institute, Borella spoke on Exploring skill development opportunities of persons with disabilities. Major SurenBandara, HR Manager Global Intimates shared his experience on Work place inclusion and challenges faced by him. Inclusion from a development and Human rights perspective was done by Ms. Nadia Cannata, Programme Manager – Action Head of Operations, European Union. Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sri Lanka explained the Scope of workplace inclusion of persons with disabilities. Mr. Chaminda Kumar (Person with orthopedic disability) shared his experience as an employee with a disability. Donor perspective to promote inclusion was done by Mr. Damian Fernando– Secretary, Sri Lanka Association of Parents of Deaf Children. Ms. ManiqueGunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Network on Disability spoke on employment opportunities for vision impaired persons. Issues and challenges when Empowering persons with disabilities was done by Mrs. KumudhuSumedhaSanjeevani Senior Lecturer University of Kelaniya. Finally there was a discussion on reasonable accommodation.


Picture descriptions:

1 At the head table.

at the head table

2 Conference.

l c programme

3 Lighting of the oil lamp.

lighting the lamp

4 Manique making the presentation at the head table.

manique making presentation with head table

5 Manique making the presentation.

manique making presentation

6 Participants at the conference.


7 Presenting the plaque to Manique.

presenting the plark



Tel. – 0094112867966


Access for all


We are all persons with disabilities at some time in our lives. A child, a person with a broken leg, a parent with a pram, pregnant mother, an elderly person, etc. are all disabled in one way or another. Those who remain healthy and able-bodied all their lives are few. As far as the built-up environment is concerned, it is important that it should be barrier-free and adapted to fulfill the needs of all people equally. As a matter of fact, the needs of the persons with disabilities coincide with the needs of the majority, and all

People are at ease with them. As such, planning for the majority implies planning for people with varying abilities and disabilities.

The Disability Organisations Joint Front organized a workshop for its member organisations at Help Age Sri Lanka in November 2015. The technical aim of this programme was to provide a barrier-free Environment for the independence, convenience and safety of all people with disabilities and persons with not yet with a disability.

Mr. Cyril Siriwardane and Ms. Maniquegunaratne conducted this workshop. Ms. ManiqueGunaratne from The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Network on Disability conducted the session on “Access to build environment for vision impaired persons”.


Picture descriptions:

1 Manique explaining about accessibility.

manique explaining accessibility

2 Manique making a presentation.

manique making presentation

3 Participants at the workshop.



CISCO International Trainer for I T E (Information Technology Essentials)



Incorporate students with disabilities to the work environment at university of Colombo


The Soft Skills Development Unit of University of Colombo took another initiative to develop the soft skills of students with disabilities. Students with non-disabilities get the opportunity to learn them in various methods. But students with disabilities get fewer opportunities to learn soft skills. Vision impaired, hearing impaired and students with physical disabilities were trained at this workshop. We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to Dr. Maheesh for the leadership taken to organize this training. Ms. ManiqueGunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Network on Disability and Mr. Cyril Sririwardane conducted this workshop. The importance of this workshop was all participants and resource persons were persons with disabilities. Ms. ManiqueGunaratne conducted sessions on Importance of doing a job, job seeking skills, conduct at work place and basic labour laws. Mr. Cyril Siriwardane conducted sessions on what is disability? barriers to inclusion and disability laws and legislations. It was a fruitful programme. Feedback was really impressive.


Picture descriptions:

1 Participants at the workshop.

all participants

2 Group photograph of the participants.

group photograph

3 Manique making a presentation

manique making presentation (1)



Resource Person to Train, Promote & Develop Information & Communication Technology for Persons with Disabilitie


University of Colombo includes persons with disabilities in their agenda


In the recent past the University of Colombo initiated in organizing many programmes for persons with disabilities. In November 2015 the authorities organized a Workshop on Implementation, Accountability and Enforcement of Disability Rights in Sri Lanka, Lessons from the US Experience”.  It was organised by the Centre for Disability Research Education and Practice, established under the Department of Sociology in University of Colombo. As part of this programmeJohn L. Wodatch, renowned disability attorney for the US Department of Justice and leading experts discussed issues pertaining to the implementation and enforcement of disability legislation and provide support in capacity building and strengthen the laws and rights of citizens with disabilities in Sri Lanka. Academics, professionals and leading experts were invited for this programme at the University.

Nicole Chulick, Counselor – Press, Cultural and Educational Affairs for the U.S. Embassy, in honor of John L. Wodatch, Retired

Chief, Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, organized a function at Lincoln House.

Ms. ManiqueGunaratne was invited for both events to share experiences.



Whats up: 0094779571918


American Centre includes persons with disability to celebrate 25 years of American disability act


The American Centre Sri Lanka celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the world’s first

Comprehensive law guaranteeing equality of

Opportunity to persons with disabilities. The American Centre organized a programme at the Full Bright Commission, titled “Lives Worth Living” A Global Interactive Web chat on Disability Rights and Education. The Great Fight for Disability Rights Web chat was with Special Guests:

Judy Heumann, U.S. Department of State’s Special Advisor for

Persons with Disabilities

Ann Cody, International Paralympian and member of the Internal-

tional Paralympic Committee

King Jorden, former first deaf president of Gallaudet University.

It was followed by a Panel Discussion with:

Dr. Mario Gomez (Moderator), Executive Director of International Center for Ethnic Studies

Dr. PadmaniMendis, Advisor, Disability and Rehabilitation

Dr. ChandaniLiyanage, Head, Center for Disability Research, Education and Practice

(CeDREP, University of Colombo)

Mr. Cyril Siriwardene, Vice President, Disability Organizations Joint Front

Mr. SeevaliSeneviratne, President, Sri Lanka Central Federation of the Deaf

Mr. IshanJalill, Founder, Action Against Apathy

Ms. ManiqueGunaratne also participated at this forum and contributed in ideas on employing persons with disabilities.


Picture description:

Panelists of the programme


Manique Gunaratne

Blog: efcnetworkondisability.employers.lkamerican centre pannel discussion