Published on Sustainable Cities

How should we design disability-inclusive cities?

This page in:
[[avp asset="/content/dam/videos/ecrgp/2018/jun-18/blog_with_shazia_hd.flv"]]/content/dam/videos/ecrgp/2018/jun-18/blog_with_shazia_hd.flv[[/avp]]
Urbanization has been one of the most significant driving forces of recent global development, with more than half the world’s population now living in cities. And this proportion will continue to rise. Add to this, the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 11 that calls for “inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” cities.

In this edition of the Sustainable Communities Blog, Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez ( @Ede_WBG), Senior Director of the World Bank’s Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice, sat down with Dr. Shazia Siddiqi, Executive Director of Deaf Abused Women’s Network (DAWN), for a conversation on the disability dimension of inclusion and how we should conceive and design cities that are truly inclusive of all, including persons with disabilities. 

DAWN is a non-profit organization servicing the Washington, D.C., area with a mission to promote healthy relationships and end abuse in the Deaf community through providing survivors of abuse the help they need to heal and progress with lives, and through community education on how to foster positive relationships.

This wide-ranging discussion touches on several key issues that are crucial for sustainable and inclusive development and important for breaking down barriers of exclusion. Particularly given the prevalence of persons with disabilities moving to cities, the topics include how to incorporate disability inclusive technology into smart city planning, disaster risk management (DRM), and attitudes that enhance the dignity of persons with disabilities.

The potential of cities to provide increased educational opportunities, public transit, and diverse employment fields have made them attractive places for persons with disabilities to live in.  We must take this into consideration in urban planning and development.

Shazia raises the dual benefit of Smart Cities for the population at large, but also specifically for persons with disabilities. She highlights the fact that disability-inclusive technology is good design for all including the elderly or those who prefer choices in communication and interaction, and can serve to make cities more accessible and easier to navigate  with a range of interface and communication choices.

With the increase of natural disasters and conflict across the globe, DRM is at the forefront of the global development agenda. For example, this Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) funded activity is reviewing good practices in inclusive DRM to offer recommendations for including persons with disabilities in the World Bank’s and GDFRR’s relevant investments.

Shazia shared a personal experience about a disaster that occurred in Washington DC and how important it was to her organization that Deaf people had a seat at the table where fast decisions and possible resolutions were being identified. She made a point that persons with disabilities need a seat at the table from start to finish. Achieving disability-inclusive DRM is imperative for leaving no one behind. 

The interview closes with a discussion about dignity, which is a current area of focus in the World Bank. Ede emphasized the importance of dignity as being fundamental to our operations as an economic institution. Shazia shared these sentiments stating, “I encourage the World Bank staff to examine their own attitudes towards disability. People with disabilities are human.”

Related links:


Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez

Former Regional Director, Africa, Sustainable Development Practice Group

Shazia Siddiqi

Executive Director of non-profit organization, Deaf Abused Women’s Network (DAWN)

Join the Conversation

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly
Remaining characters: 1000