Frequently Asked Questions
PWDs is the commonly used acronym for people with disabilities or a person with a disability and will be used throughout the remainder of our FAQ section and on the map.
The list of countries for which we have collected data are listed on the left-hand side of the map. We have color coded each country using a predefined set of criteria. We could not find an international agency, organization, or advocacy group that appears to be systematically monitoring the enforcement of laws and policies within countries. Therefore we created our own set of criteria to color code the map.
Country-specific and international laws and policies protecting PWDs are grouped by country and can be viewed by clicking on a specific country. A pop-up box will appear.
Population statistics and demographics are located on the top of the map. These statistics change with the selection of a different country.
Information on athletes from the previous two Paralympic, Deaflympic, and Special Olympic Games and contact information for each respective committee is located in the boxes on the bottom of the map. This information changes with the selection of a different country.
A list of CSPS alumni who are using sport to empower PWDs is located on the top right of the map. A picture of each alumni and information about their sport-based initiatives are located on the right-hand side of the map. This information changes with the selection of a different country.
Faculty at the CSPS developed the initial idea and recruited students to assist in the creation and implementation of the project. Specifically, the map was created by two University of Tennessee students. With the support and mentorship of CSPS faculty, Veronica Allen (undergraduate student majoring in Geography, Geospatial Science, & Technology) and Taylor Winkel (graduate student in Public Health & Nutrition) compiled the data, created the design layout, and built the map using GIS technology. Additionally, CSPS invited Fulbright Scholar and Edmund S. Muskie Intern, Olga Khokhryakova from the University of Arkansas and Grace Athanas-Linden from Temple University to join the project as research assistants dedicated to the creation of the CSPS Advocacy Toolkit and Additional Resources page on the website.
CSPS faculty are dedicated to helping students transfer theoretical knowledge learned in the classroom into practical skills that can be applied to solving real world challenges. The creation of the world’s only interactive global map highlighting the intersection of human rights policies for PWDs and sport for development is one example of how the CSPS engages students in meaningful projects that prepare them to enter the global community as conscientious leaders.
We gathered information on country specific laws and policies and the government entities responsible for enforcement primarily from the U.S. Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. These reports are updated yearly and will be reviewed yearly so as to update the map accordingly. We also contacted our partners in each country to review the policy information and to provide any corrections or additional information.
The United Nations keeps a list of countries that have signed and ratified each U.N. Convention including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
For details on a country’s Paralympic Committee, we used information collected from the International Paralympic Committee. For statistics on the National Deaf Sports Federations, we collected information from Deaflympics. And for data on a country’s Special Olympic committee, we received information from our partners at the Special Olympics.
We used a variety of sources to find information on a country’s population and demographics. Those sources are listed in the pop-up box and under the population statistics for each country. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 15% of the world’s population lives with some type of disability. Rather than using this estimate, we were interested in collecting information from a country’s official census report or government website. In some cases this resulted in population statistics significantly less than the 15% estimate. We believe that the discrepancy is a result of some countries’ narrow definitions of disability. For more information on how to collect comprehensive population data that is inclusive of all disabilities, visit the Washington Group on Disability Statistics website. We hope this resource will assist people as they advocate for more inclusive policies and practices at the national level.
If you have access to updated information on population statistics or policies protecting PWDs in your country, click the button at the bottom of the page to submit new information. We took the first step, but we need your help to ensure the map is updated and accurate!
There are four sets of criteria used to determine how each country ranks compared to one another. The criteria are as follows: 1) the country has laws that protect PWDs and prohibit discrimination; 2) a government agency responsible for protecting PWDs that was identified; 3) the country signed and ratified the Convention on rights with PWDs and optional protocol and; 4) the census data collected for PWDs is no more than 10 years old.
Based on these criteria, countries were coded into one of four categories: 1) blue; 2) yellow; 3) light orange; or 4) red. Countries that are coded blue meet all 4 criteria listed above. Countries in yellow meet 3 of 4 criteria. Countries in light orange meet 2 of the 4 criteria. Red is used for countries that have laws that discriminate against PWDs or specifically do not protect PWDs.
The countries are coded on the map as follows:
- Saudi Arabia
Light Orange Countries:
- Sri Lanka
- North Macedonia
- South Korea
- United Arab Emirates
- United States
- South Africa
The information shown on the map only indicates the laws and policies that exist within a country. The information does not indicate a government’s level of enforcement of these laws or policies. In many countries laws exist but discrimination remains high and enforcement remains low. In order to give a picture of each country’s compliance to international treaties, the map contains links to the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, which can also be found below. Within each country’s homepage, you can find the ratification status of international policies and treaties, as well as reports on the implementation of the CRPD. While internal enforcement is not directly addressed, the reports contain any concerns that the UN has about the country’s adherence to the treaty and guidance on how to improve issues of compliance. These reports are not submitted yearly, so recent updates for each country may not be available.
Our hope for outlining these laws and policies is to give citizens the tools and resources to effectively advocate for greater protection and enforcement, specifically with the aim of reducing discrimination, increasing accessibility, and promoting inclusion of PWDs.
The WHO estimates that 15% of the world’s population lives with some type of disability. Many online resources list the number of people with a disability within a country using the 15% estimate. Differently, we chose to use actual data available from each country’s census or government website. This resulted in (1) population statistics for some countries that are 10 – 20 years old, (2) population statistics significantly less than the 15% estimate, or (3) a “no value” entry on the number of people with a disability for some countries, indicating we could not find an official statistic. We believe that the discrepancy is a result of some countries’ narrow definitions of disability and a lack of commitment from governments to accurately count the number of people living with a disability in their own country. We hope that by displaying information in this way, the map can be used as a tool for advocates as they engage with governments to adopt inclusive policies and procedures. For more information on how to collect comprehensive population data that is inclusive of all disabilities, visit the Washington Group on Disability Statistics website.
Statistics or other places on the map without a number or value indicate that the information is unknown. The most common feature of the map with unknown information is the percentage of persons with a disability within a particular country. Additionally, for some countries the Paralympic and Deaflympic medals pie chart is missing – this indicates that the country has not won any medals to date.
In some instances a total number of athletes was reported, but the specific number of male and female athletes was not. For some countries, the map shows no information for male and female athletes but the total number of athletes is still given.
The emphasis of the Special Olympics is for athletes to achieve their personal best, not win a competition. Athletes compete against others of similar ability level and awards are given for 1st through 8th place for each division in a given sport. While some countries report medal counts after the World Games, the Special Olympics Games and Competition Department does not track nor publicize this information. The focus on athletes achieving their personal best rather than winning a medal is an important distinction between the Special Olympics and the Paralympics.
Our goal is to update the map yearly. This includes updating the statistics and policies and adding information on more countries to the map. We selected this initial list of countries from the list of CSPS alumni who are using sport intentionally to increase accessibility and inclusion and to reduce discrimination against PWDs in their communities. As more individuals participate in CSPS programming, the map will be updated accordingly. Additionally, each year we will update the policies and statistics as new information becomes available.
Although we made every effort to include the most accurate and up-to-date information on the map, please let us know if we have missed something! We took the first step, but we need your help to ensure the map is updated and accurate! Click the button at the bottom of the page to submit new information to be included on the map.