This last May in Tokyo, we talked about demographic transitions and aging cities, in a week-long discussion with city leaders from around the world. Although we saw the opportunities that arise from having large numbers of elderly persons in cities, we also focused on the numerous challenges, many of which are grounded in age-related disability – both physical and cognitive. We had expected that the conversation would be as our flagship report on social inclusion, Inclusion Matters: The Foundation for Shared Prosperity, puts it – about “including” the elderly into markets, services, and spaces following our framework.
Enter Rich Donovan, with a riveting talk that stood our assumptions on their heads. Rich argued that persons with disability are a market. They are an opportunity. And that there is an economic “return on disability.” If we build and design having persons with disabilities in mind, we are in fact creating public goods. In short, and as Rich has said elsewhere - this new vision of disability “transforms efforts of charity into the world’s largest emerging market”.
I got a chance to talk to Rich in Tokyo. Among other things, I asked him whether “social inclusion” is too arcane, or even too limiting an idea for the revolutionary take that he has on disability.
Rich’s book “Unleash Different” will be out in September 2018. We look forward to continuing the conversation with Rich about the return on disability. Meanwhile, watch this video in full, and leave a comment to share your thoughts, as world leaders gather in London for the Global Disability Summit.