A central principle of the disability rights movement has been 'nothing about us without us'. This means that no policy or program about or potentially targeting persons with disabilities or the wider community in which they live should be designed, implemented or evaluated without the active engagement and involvement of persons with disabilities themselves at each step of the process. Disability inclusive development practice recognises the contribution that persons with disabilities can make as key stakeholders, not just beneficiaries of development, from the local community level to the international level. Persons with disabilities themselves must play a central and active role in all areas and at all levels in ensuring that their human rights are translated into concrete measures to effectively improve their lives. This reflects the general principle of the UNCRPD ("full and effective participation and inclusion in society"), in Article 3 and general obligation Article 4.3)
Intentionally supporting the genuine participation of persons with disabilities in development can assist in:
- understanding and addressing the barriers and enablers to accessing development opportunities
- identifying the most effective programming responses and improving development effectiveness
- reducing stigma through demonstrating that persons with disabilities are capable, contributing members of their community.
Investing in the leadership and capacity of persons with disabilities helps increase participation and often takes place through support to Disabled People's Organisations, employing persons with disabilities and building people-to-people links through scholarships and volunteer programs.
Supporting participation at an organisational level: Disabled People's Organisations (DPOs)
Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) are organisations made up of persons with disabilities and which exist to represent the interests of their members. The UNCRPD recognises the role of DPOs and requires governments to consult with them in the development of legislation and policies to implement the UNCRPD and also in all decision-making processes. Some DPOs represent people with all impairment types, while others may focus on a particular impairment type or sectoral issue, or represent geographical areas (local, provincial, national, regional or international). See the Links page for links to DPOs.
Resources below include policy papers and donor guides to supporting DPOs, and reports on capacity building. Case studies and good practice guidance will be added when these become available.
See also: Governance