RI World Congress 2016

Over 1000 of the world's leading disability experts united 



"There is no better time than right here, right now to start doing far more about disability and inclusion."

Dr. Stephen Duckworth,
RI World Congress 2016 Chair

"Ultimately this is what this congress is all about - trying to create a fairer, more equal society where people with disabilities can fulfill their full potential."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP

First Minister

"In the nearly 60 years since the first UK-based Rehabilitation Congress, the way that we think about disabled people and disability has changed markedly - and for the better. 

On an international level, the issue of disability rights has become a major focus of the human rights agenda - particularly through key milestones like the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We have already safeguarded the rights of 2,800 of our most severely disabled by establishing the Scottish Independent Living Fund and we are committed to using the new powers we will shortly gain to positively influence the quality of life for people with a disability. 

We also want to take away some of the anxiety felt by disabled people by reforming the assessment process for the disability benefits being devolved and will embed dignity and respect in our new social security system. 

I'm very proud of the progress we have made in Scotland. I know that there is still much that we need to learn and do which is why this Congress is so important. Not only will it increase our collective understanding of the challenges disabled people face every day, but will also help guide the future actions that we all need to take to deliver a more equal and inclusive world." 

"I would like to build a bridge for persons with disabilities towards a better life. Today in beautiful Edinburgh let's start building this bridge!" 

Madam Zhang Haidi, 
RI President

Independent living

"Disability is the fabric of life. On average we will ALL experience disability for 1-13 years in our lives." Ability Magazine

"Tackle inequalities that people with disabilities face now because one day it may be you" Dame Anne Begg

"This is an event that can push the world forward to make more inclusive societies to ensure equal rights for everyone"

Jan Monsbakken,
Outgoing RI President

Education and skills

"The wider legacy for the UK is linking up employment and service options in a way that previously we haven't been quite sophisticated enough about. We need to be much more aware that some individuals may only be able to work 4-6 hours a week, others will be able to work full time, but whether or not an individual can work 4-6 hours a week or full time, it’s got as much worth for the individual in working the amount of hours they can." 

Roy O' Shaughnessy, Shaw Trust CEO

"What I am clear on is in 2016 it's totally unacceptable for disabled people to have low expectations and low aspirations."  

Mike Adams OBE, Purple CEO

"The UK Government will take a more consumer approach to disability - empowering the customer through information, choice and consumer pressure. And empowering the supplier through economic awareness, expertise and support."

Penny Mordaunt, UK Minister for disabled people, work and health

International development and partnerships

"This year  marks the 10th anniversary of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities which is the most comprehensive document on rights and developments of persons with disabilities. In the coming 4 years, with my fellow RI colleagues, I shall follow the proposal and principles of the RI constitution as well as the newly adopted strategic plan for 2017-2021 to combine RI's work closely with the UN 2030 agenda for sustainable development and CRPD so as to achieve those disability-related goals and fully promote the rights and interests of persons with disabilities.

The strategic plan lays out the road map for RI's work in the coming 4 years, with rehabilitation, human rights, poverty alleviation and inclusive development as the priority areas, with disabled women and children as priority groups. Accordingly we shall advocate the international community to make more efforts to eliminate discrimantion, to realise equality, sharing and inclusion for persons with disabilities, with special attention paid to disabled women and children for their survival and development. 

We shall enhance co-operation with other international organisations and play a more active role in world disability affairs. We shall upgrade RI's global network and encourage more involvement from developing countries and conducting more  co-operation projects. We shall make the best out of the expertise of RI professional commissions to support and encourage more advanced rehabilitation related science and technology projects, particularly those on the spinal cord injury, autism etc. We shall establish an Africa Fund to conduct rehabilitation service projects and to train rehabilitation personnel especially to provide assistive devices for disabled women and the children. I wish to found a permanent award for RI, to award those who have made outstanding contributions to our common cause.

I believe that the above-mentioned measures will help improve the overall quality of life for persons with disabilities all over the world."

Madam Zhang Haidi, RI President


Innovation in disability sport is helping amateur and professional athletes to be more active and achieve more both on and off the field. Ottobock has provided equipment to and work with successful athletes who competed at the recent Rio Paralympic Games. This includes their ambassadors, British gold medallists, paracyclist Megan Giglia and paratriathlete Andy Lewis, rising wheelchair racing star and British silver and bronze medallist Kare Adenegan, and the German gold medal sprinter, Heinrich Popow who will attend the World Congress to share his experience.

"As a great believer that in the society we live in everyone has the opportunity for employment, inclusion and independence, I'm so honoured to have been part of this three day event." 

 Zoe Brown, Volunteer


"Being part of the RI World Congress was an amazing experience both professionally and personally. Having listened and learnt about some, quite frankly, incredible organisations from around the globe inspired me to ensure my team and I are doing even more to support the people we work with. On a personal level it left me feeling truly humbled by some of the amazing people I met in my role as a volunteer - people who have dedicated their lives to making a more inclusive world for others while often having disability challenges themselves." 

Jim Cotterrell, Volunteer

"To have more than 1,000 people from all over the world exchanging ideas is a hugely positive way of changing minds."

 Ken Olisa, Shaw Trust Chair


"You will hopefully be able to take back much inspiration to help you in the roles you fulfill in your own countries back home, that you will feel enriched and invigorated to make more meaningful and lasting changes to promote the inclusion of disabled people."

HRH The Princess Royal, RI Congress 2016 Royal Patron

"An important indicator of a country's attitude in this rapidly changing world, is how well they equip and enable people with a range of disabilities. To participate in a range of activities - not just their daily activities - but society, business, employment and sport."

HRH The Princess Royal


"We would like to build on Edinburgh's legacy in the next four years. We will focus on the concept of trying to move societies. We do that for two reasons - because we can see societies moving at the moment. Changes are happening as we speak and we see a lot of people taking more interest in having more responsibility in being part of society not just being clients - but being counted in."

Gunnar Gamborg, RI Denmark

"I am incredibly proud that Shaw Trust have hosted on behalf of the UK. The team and the volunteers did absolutely brilliantly."

Roy O' Shaughnessy,
Shaw Trust CEO

Roy O' Shaughnessy, Shaw Trust CEO