The Fund was established pursuant to General Assembly resolution 32/133, in connection with preparations for the 1981 International Year of Disabled Persons. The General Assembly decided in its resolution 40/31 that the Fund would be renamed the Voluntary Fund for the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons (1983-1992), and that its resources would support catalytic and innovative action to implement further the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons. By its resolution 47/88, the General Assembly decided that the Fund would continue in the period beyond the Decade as the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability, and that its terms of reference would include support for action to achieve the target of a "Society for all" by the year 2010, as endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution 45/91.
The United Nations provides support to organizations for persons with disabilities in their activities through the UN Voluntary Fund on Disability. Funding priority is targeted to building the capacity of non-governmental organizations to take part in the making of the Convention and its future implementation. The Fund also provide small grants to support catalytic and innovative action, which will promote greater awareness of disability issues and exchanges of knowledge and experience and permit wide dissemination of appropriate disability technologies.
Following the adoption of resolution 57/229 by the General Assembly, a sub-account of the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability was created to receive contributions that have been earmarked for the participation of non-governmental organizations and experts from developing countries, in particular from the least developed countries in the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities.