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Disability Inclusion

SDDirect provides research, guidance, and technical support on disability inclusion in all aspects of policy and programming.

We also mainstream disability inclusion throughout our work to promote the ‘leave no one behind’ agenda and the ‘nothing about us, without us’ call from the disability rights movement.

A visually impaired woman uses a screen reader

What is Disability Inclusion?


An estimated 1.3 billion people, or 16% of the global population, have a disability. Despite this, people with disabilities have historically been overlooked in development and humanitarian policy and programming. Too often people with disabilities are denied their basic human rights, including access to education, employment and health services. The disability rights movement is advocating for change.

"…disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society, on an equal basis with others" - United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Barriers to disability inclusion


Barriers to disability inclusion graphic


Our work in this area


SDDirect has extensive experience providing guidance on disability inclusion across sectors. Through the Disability Inclusive Development Helpdesk, we support the generation of a rigorous evidence base on ‘what works’ to deliver results for people with disabilities. The Helpdesk also provides technical and training support to ensure that data and evidence is used to drive further action and investment in disability inclusion.

We promote disability inclusion through our broader work, including our work on gender-based violence, infrastructure, safeguarding, and women’s economic empowerment.

We take a rights-based approach to disability inclusion and apply a gender and intersectionality lens in everything we do. Working with organisations of persons with disability (OPDs) is central to our approach and essential to promote the approach advocated by the disability rights movement: “nothing about us without us”.  

We work to promote disability inclusion in our workplace and operations. SDDirect is a Disability Confident Employer, and we have an active Disability Inclusion Working Group that reports to our executive management team. 

“In my engagements with the Disability Inclusion Helpdesk – both in preparations for and delivery of products – I found the service to be of brilliant quality. It certainly provided a wide range of people with increased knowledge and understanding of the issues and was always able to consider how best to support colleagues in the FCDO, to put information and evidence into practice.”
Emma Žaja
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)

If you would like to hear more about our work on Disability Inclusion, please reach out to Rebekah Martin, Head of Disability Inclusion portfolio,

Query 32 - Disability Inclusive Programming Training for Private Sector Development Advisors

This resource is a training for private sector development (PSD) advisors on how to implement disability inclusion in programming. It provides an overview of persons with disabilities in the development sphere, why it is key to include disability inclusion in programming and the impacts of when this is not the case, how to implement disability when designing private sector development programming, and useful resources. 

Query 10 - Inclusive education in North Africa: summary of available evidence (Version 2)

This report provides a rapid review of the evidence on inclusive education in North Africa (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia), including a review of national educational policies for disability inclusion; evidence of outcomes for children with disabilities both in terms of access to education and learning outcomes; and barriers to inclusion. The purpose of this review is to support DFID advisers and partners designing and implementing inclusive education programmes in the region.

Disability inclusion in climate justice frameworks and environmental and climate risk assessment processes

This query considers how disability inclusion is integrated into climate justice frameworks and environmental and climate risk assessment processes. It concludes with key considerations for ensuring people with disabilities are included in analysis of risk and do no harm in climate, energy, and environment programmes.

Evidence Digest, Issue 16: Focus on Ageing and Disability Inclusion

This evidence digests focuses on evidence on the situation for older people with disabilities around the world and learning and resources from development and humanitarian programming. To introduce this evidence digest, we spoke to Alison Marshall, CEO of Age International Kayla Arnold, Policy Advisor at Age International, and Diana Hiscock, Global Disability Advisor at HelpAge.

Guest blog: promoting the inclusion of LGBTIQ+ people with disabilities


Written by Nu

People with disabilities are not a homogenous group and are likely to face additional barriers or discrimination based on other aspects of their identity, including their age, race and their sexuality or gender identity. Despite this, there is a lack of evidence and resources on the lives and needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) people with disabilities.

Evidence Digest, Issue 15: Focus on Political Participation and Leadership

Worldwide, people with disabilities face barriers to taking part and leading in politics. In this evidence digest, we present the latest evidence and guidance on the right to vote, inclusive elections, engagement in decision-making processes and the representation of people with disabilities in elected office. The evidence digest is introduced by Laurène Leclercq who presents learning from Sightsaver’s work to promote the rights of people with disabilities in civic and political life in Cameroon and Senegal.

Disability Inclusion in Nature-Based Solutions Programming

There is an increasing focus on Nature-Based Solutions (NbS) to address the climate crisis. Whilst there is increasing awareness of the importance of disability inclusion in climate action, there is limited evidence available on disability inclusion and nature-based solutions programming. This report provides a rapid review of the emerging evidence on best practice of disability inclusion in nature-based solutions programming.

Query 88 - Disability Inclusion in the work of International Financial Institutions

This paper compares disability inclusion policies of a selected number of International Finance Institutions (IFIs). It covers the strategic focus of IFIs on disability inclusion, considers how this relates to the FCDO’s Disability Inclusion and Rights Strategy, and provides recommendations for fostering greater disability inclusion across the work of IFIs.