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Accessibility and Inclusion: Two Key Factors for Disabled Individuals

Sofía Guerrero Gámez's picture
Also available in: Español
Globally, over one billion people – 15% of the population – live with some form of disability,  according to the World Health Organization’s World Report on Disabilities. Beyond their physical, mental or sensory impairments, people with disabilities face barriers for inclusion in different aspects of life. They tend to have fewer socioeconomic opportunities, more limited access to education and higher poverty rates. Stigma and discrimination are sometimes the main barrier to their full, equal participation.

How can this situation be addressed?

Accessibility is a key factor. The definition may vary, but basically accessibility means the possibility of an individual, with or without problems of mobility or sensory perception, to understand a space, integrate in it or interact with its content.

In Peru, for example, people sensitive to inadequate accessibility (including disabled people, the elderly, children up to age five, pregnant women and family members of individuals with a disability) represent 33% of the total population. Despite advances, much remains to be done.

Peru celebrated its Day of Persons with Disabilities on October 16, and December 3 is International Day of Persons with Disabilities. In commemoration of this important date in Peru, the World Bank, with support from the Sociedad y Discapacidad (SODIS), organized an encounter to discuss the current situation of persons with disabilities in the country.

José Taco, current director of the Executive Office on Accessibility and Technological Development of the Ministry of Housing, Construction and Sanitation, sat down with us to discuss the recently approved Plan Nacional de Accesibilidad para 2018-2023 [2018-2023 National Accessibility Plan]. This plan establishes policies and actions to ensure that the infrastructure and equipment of cities guarantees the equal access of people with disabilities to the physical environment, transportation, information and communications.  

What commitments has the World Bank made to this issue?

One of the main commitments of the World Bank Group is to invest in people to prepare countries for the economy of the future. The development of human capital, in other words, the accumulated skills, knowledge and experience of individuals, should include people living with disabilities.
Unfortunately, this remains a major challenge given the limited awareness about and inclusion of people with disabilities, especially in developing countries.  To promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in the labor market, it is essential to have inclusive education that considers the needs of these individuals and that offers them the same opportunities as the general population to receive a quality education.

How can we contribute to the inclusion of people with disabilities?

The following recommendations were made during the discussion:
  • Involve people with disabilities and civil society in all phases of policymaking and the implementation of projects and programs. Participation and consultation of all users and people with different disabilities are required from the beginning given that these individuals are the best allies for identifying and eliminating the main barriers that occur.
  • Develop instruments designed to improve accessibility in the urban environment. Creating inclusive cities requires legal frameworks and effective standards that foster accessibility in all aspects of daily life.
  • Promote a crosscutting approach among the different ministries to ensure that their policies work together to support the needs of people with disabilities.
  • Strengthen controls for the enforcement of current instruments. Authorities should guarantee the proper application of these instruments and ensure that the country does not continue to invest in works that are not accessible to all citizens.
  • Raise awareness of and train public servants responsible for implementing these instruments, as well as the public in general. We need greater social awareness that allows us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes to understand that accessibility is not something that concerns only people with physical disabilities, but that it is an attitude of solidarity that enables the free access of citizens to all the services and opportunities our society offers and the exercise of all of their rights as citizens.
  • Promote accessibility: For people with disabilities – and for people in general – accessibility is the point of entry to their human rights.
 “Building a sustainable, inclusive world for all requires the full engagement of people of all abilities,” Ban Ki-moon, 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations (2015).
 
Accessibility and Inclusion: Two Key Factors for Disabled Individuals

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