Independent Living Institute

Inter-American Institute on Disability

by Rosangela Berman-Bieler


The Inter-American Institute on Disability (IID) is a private, non-profit entity. The purpose of the Institute is to interface between public and private organizations and associations of and for people with all types of disabilities. In doing so, the Institute will contribute to the empowerment of people with disabilities in Latin America and other target countries.

The Institute's focus population is located throughout the Inter-American Region. However, the Institute plans to extend its services to all Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries in Europe, Africa and Asia.

With its central office located in Washington, DC, USA, the Institute will maintain on-going contact with Inter-American bodies located in the same area, such as PAHO, Inter American Development Bank, Inter American Foundation, OAS, among others.

There will be a regional Office for Latin-America located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to develop and to promote IID's activities in the region.

Other than its Central and Regional Offices the Institute will be represented by an office/branch in each sub-region (Mexico, Central America, Southern Cone, etc.), as well as representations (in partnership with local entities) in other Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries, such as Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, São Tomée Principe, Macao, etc.

The IID will also establish a communication network intensively utilizing the Internet and other means of communications to develop its goals internationally. This network will encompass governments, public and private organizations and associations of and for people with disabilities, service providers, international entities engaged in the disability area, universities, and institutes of theoretical and applied research, including mass media outlets.

The Institute will act directly as a contractor and broker (training, project development...) for government, service providers and the population of people with disabilities, and will also provide support, making subsidies available to other entities and service providers, trends analysis, opening new channels, enabling partnerships and promoting new efforts.

Economic development activities, such as micro-credit loans for people with disabilities will be part of the agenda of the IID.


logo of Inter-American Institute on Disability The inverted cone in motion, used as the IID symbol, has various meanings:


General Objectives

Specific Objectives


The IID will have it's central headquarters in Washington, DC, USA and a regional branch in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Each one of the countries involved in the activities of the IID should have a national representative.

Executive Committee

International Support Network



Some characteristics that differentiate the IID from other existing entities in the Region and demonstrate a real and concrete need for its existence are:

Areas of Immediate Action


Public Policy & Disability

Recent studies reveal that among Latin-American countries there are only a few organizations for regional cooperation in disability issues. Although these organizations play a very important role in the development of the region, none of them are working from the perspective of the disability rights movement, and consumers are not part of the decision making process.

IID's staff has developed a research proposal to analyze the current situation of the disability sphere in the region and, as a result of that analysis evaluate how Inter-American exchanges, programs and projects could benefit development of the American Continent as a whole in the disability field.

One of the focuses of the study will be on the Hispanic population of the USA, expected to be the largest minority in the country, by the year 2000.

The proposed activities generated by this study will examine closely work with international organizations such as UN organizations, Disabled Peoples' International, Rehabilitation International, Mobility International, World Institute on Disability and other NGO's worldwide that already have experiences in the region and/or struggle for the same objectives.

Cooperation for Development

IID will promote, during 1999, in Washington, DC, the 1st Inter-American Conference on Disability and Development. The main goal of the event is to bring together consumers organizations and international agencies to evaluate existing initiatives in the region and to develop strategies to increase cooperation for the next 10 years.

Training and Capacity Building


Technical Assistance

Potential Partners

Rosangela Berman-Bieler
Biographical Sketch

Rosangela Berman Bieler is a Brazilian journalist, publisher and disability rights advocate as well as a professional meeting planner. Founder of the Independent Living Movement in Brazil, she is also a founding member and former president of ONEDEF - the Brazilian Organization of Persons with Physical Disabilities (1981), of CVIRJ - the Center for Independent Living of Rio de Janeiro (1988-1995), the first in the Region where she currently serves as Honorary President. She was formerly Rehabilitation International Deputy Vice President for Latin America (1992-1995), and editor of many newsmagazines on disability and other publications.

Berman-Bieler has served as an expert to the United Nations on disability issues representing Latin America. She served on Disabled People's International Latin American Regional Committee as the representative from Brazil. Known internationally for her expertise on Latin American disability issues, especially media, women's issues and independent living, she is a member of numerous organizations. In 1989 she was named a Lifetime Fellow by Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, an international foundation for public entrepreneurs, in recognition of her innovative contributions to the public sector.

As a meeting planner, Berman-Bieler organized many international conferences and other events on disability issues in Brazil. Currently living in Washington, DC, she recently served as the Event Coordinator of the International Leadership Forum for Women with Disabilities (June, 1997), and the International Symposium and Colloquium on Job Retention & Return to Work - Strategies for Workers with Disabilities (May, 1998). Both events held in the Washington, DC area, U.S..

Rosangela runs her own business, Third Millennium Events, through which she produces and edits publications, and provides disability-related consulting services. One of her current responsibilities is the newsletter 'One in Ten', a collaboration between Rehabilitation International and UNICEF on childhood disabilities.

She is also the founder and director of the Inter-American Institute on Disability (IID). The IID is a private, non-profit entity with the purpose of serving as an interface between public and private organizations of people with all types of disabilities as well as service providers, contributing to promote empowerment of people with disabilities in Latin America.

Berman-Bieler has been a quadriplegic since an automobile accident in 1976, and uses a wheelchair.

711 Brent Road
Rockville, MD 20850
Tel 1 (301) 838-3031
Fax 1 (301) 838-3029
E mail