Social Inclusion

Design for disability

Physical exclusion
Correct design of spaces and facilities for people in wheelchairs is critical to accessibility.  If a ramp is too steep or provides only token access to a limited area, it can be very frustrating for a wheelchair user, as can toilets that are made bigger in the misguided belief that this alone makes them wheelchair accessible, when the width or positioning of the door may prevent access.

Poor design of physical disabled access is something that I have witnessed in many development projects, because there is an absence of building standards.  If I have a mission it is to raise awareness amongst INGOs mainstreaming disability in their programmes, of the need for simple disabled access design manuals and for a rigorous inspection procedure to be put in place to ensure physical adaptations are fit for purpose.

Social and psychological exclusion
It is harder to monitor social and psychological exclusion mechanisms, than physical exclusion.  However, INGOs that regularly work specifically with excluded children and adults  have evolved a variety of interventions that, when implemented, enable people living with disabilities to access basic education, further study and support for income generating activities.  

Inclusive education initiatives first identify children with disabilities who are not in school and then provide physical, material and psycho-social support for them to access education in mainstream schools.  Child-to-child methods and relevant parent support groups are often a key to the success of inclusive education.  See also 'Inclusive development'.

There are links to some excellent books, papers and guidance notes covering design for disability in development in ‘Resources’.

Rukoki, Uganda
Wall-charts in a special 'inclusive education' school.
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