How our innovations are improving the lives of people with disabilities through Inclusive Futures

Leonard Cheshire
3 min readApr 21, 2021

The 17 2030 Sustainable Development Goals are an important blueprint for creating a world that is much fairer and more equal. So it’s essential that we test new and innovative ways to reach people with disabilities as part of this important work.

On World Creativity and Innovation Day today (21 April) we are highlighting how Inclusive Futures is trialling new approaches to improve the lives of people with disabilities around the world.

Leonard Cheshire is part of the Inclusive Futures consortium. With funding from UK Aid, the 16 Inclusive Futures partners are working to include people with disabilities in health, work, education, and tackle stigma and discrimination.

Together we are using a range of innovations to promote the importance of disability inclusion. And hold governments to account too. Innovations include embedding inclusion in successful mainstream programmes including a youth training programme in Bangladesh. To testing inclusive approaches in new sectors or countries such as inclusive eye health in Nigeria. The programme is also trying new ideas and partnerships including building an app designed for people with intellectual disabilities.

The evidence we generate about how to include people with disabilities in development will be used to encourage and enable organisations to embed disability inclusion in their own work.

Leonard Cheshire is currently a partner on four different Inclusive Futures projects. We’re working on inclusive education programmes in Nepal, Kenya, Tanzania and Bangladesh.

In Nepal, we’re working to support children with disabilities at all levels of Early Childhood Development. As well as working to strengthen inclusive education systems to promote the importance of access to quality learning and participation for children with disabilities.

In Bangladesh, we’re focusing on two areas — Narshingdi and Sirajganj. As the lead partner, we’ll be working with other consortium partners and local Disabled People Organisations (DPOs) to improve primary education systems so they can be more inclusive for children with disabilities aged 5 to 16. The project will specifically focus on children who have either dropped out of school. Or children with severe and complex disabilities who have never been enrolled due to an inaccessible and unsupportive educational environment. This will include inclusive education training for teachers. And working with the community to help improve understanding about the importance of education for all children. Assistive technology and home-based support for children before they begin school are just two of the innovative elements of this project.

In Tanzania we are working with other partners to test and then scale up a model of inclusive education that will impact the national strategy on inclusive education. Here we also acknowledge the role to be played by organisations of persons with disabilities in bringing about change in society and education towards children with disabilities.

And in Kenya, we’re working with partners to promote Inclusive Early Childhood Developmental Education (ECDE). Part of our innovative work here will include developing training materials for teachers on the value of inclusive education. This will help teachers ensure they are giving all their students the support they may need to succeed in class.

Marie Schoeman, who is Leonard Cheshire’s Technical Advisor on Inclusive Futures, explained: “Good teaching helps to make sure people reach their full potential. Inclusion is a respect for diversity and a respect for people vulnerable to exclusion. It’s also about making sure there is access to quality education for everyone and that they can participate in a meaningful way.”

There is lots of great work planned across all four programmes and innovative ideas will be key to their success.

Talking about Inclusive Futures as a whole, Johannes Trimmel, a programme director for Inclusive Futures, said: “We — the global development community — have made a commitment to help everybody.

“We cannot keep this promise for some people and not others, which is why we must include people with disabilities in all of our development and humanitarian work.

“It’s important to innovate, not just to create the sexy new thing, but also to adapt our established processes and challenge our attitudes so that people with disabilities are included.

“Our work as part of Inclusive Futures is about changing systems so that every person with a disability can be included in education, work and healthcare and not be subjected to stigma and discrimination.”

To find out more visit and follow #InclusiveFutures on Twitter and LinkedIn.



Leonard Cheshire

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