Disability inclusion


There is no one definition of disability. However, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) recognises that ‘disability is an evolving concept’ and that ‘persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others’.

There is an estimated one billion people with disabilities globally – approximately 15 percent of the world’s population. An estimated 80% of people with disabilities live in developing countries and one in five of the world’s poorest people have a disability. People with disabilities (PWD) face barriers in all sectors (access to education, healthcare, employment, income, justice, social support, appropriate assistive technology and opportunities for civic involvement) and at all levels, from systemwide exclusion to negative attitudes within the community and wider society. These barriers create lasting disadvantages and a vicious cycle of poverty between schooling, employment and people’s life chances. People with disabilities face intersecting and compounding forms of discrimination on the grounds of gender, sexuality, impairment type, age, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, and location which all contribute to disability-related exclusion.

The former Department for International Development, now Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO’s), Disability Inclusion Strategy (opens in a new window) is about how we can achieve a world where no-one is left behind.

People with disabilities need to be:

  • Engaged, consulted, represented and listened to at all levels of decision-making and as leaders
  • Empowered as powerful and active agents of change to challenge discrimination
  • Able to exercise and enjoy their fundamental rights and freedoms on an equal basis.
Our resources
A UK Aid guide to disability inclusion - webinar YouTube
A UK Aid guide to disability inclusion - webinar

A panel of speakers discuss what it means to mainstream disability inclusion, disaggregated data, and the Washington group questions.

A UK aid guide to disability inclusion - the presentation PowerPoint
A UK aid guide to disability inclusion - the presentation

This PowerPoint presentation accompanies the UK aid webinar recorded on 20 November 2019.

A UK Aid Direct guide to disability inclusion PDF
A UK Aid Direct guide to disability inclusion

Learn the terms related to disability inclusion in our guidance and find out how to address it within project documents and implementation.

User Guide - reporting on disability YouTube
User Guide - reporting on disability

A User Guide that addresses how groups can advance their reporting of disability. In collaboration with DFID and the Washington Group.

Case study from AbleChildAfrica on empowering children with disabilities YouTube
Case study from AbleChildAfrica on empowering children with disabilities

UK Aid Direct grant holders AbleChildAfrica share best practice for empowering young people with disabilities to drive change and claim their rights.

External resources
DFID’s disability inclusion strategy PDF
DFID’s disability inclusion strategy

'DFID’s approach to disability inclusion' is the first strategy it has published on disability inclusion. It outlines the scale of the challenge we face.

Paper on dignity and respect for all PDF
Paper on dignity and respect for all

This paper explores the global context to the discrimination and stigma that PWD experience in low- and middle-income countries.

Paper on inclusion in education PDF
Paper on inclusion in education

This paper explores the global context for inclusive education as it relates to children and young PWD in low- and middle-income countries.

Paper on harnessing technology and innovation PDF
Paper on harnessing technology and innovation

This paper briefly explores accessibility to assistive technology for PWD in low- and middle-income countries.