The Disability Data Portal — A Goldmine for Advocacy

Leonard Cheshire
3 min readOct 15, 2020


Kibe Yohana, Researcher and Disability Rights Advocate

Kibe Yohana, Researcher and Disability Rights Advocate, explores the benefits of accessible global disability data.

The World Bank estimates that 15 percent of the world’s population lives with some form of disability. A majority of them live in developing countries where their exclusion level is higher comparative to those who live in developed countries. As such, a more concerted effort needs to be put in place by the various stakeholders to ensure that the needs of persons with disabilities from developing countries are addressed.

The previous paragraph shows an example of a pitch that can be used by a disability advocate to champion for the rights of persons with disabilities from developing countries. The paragraph presents an argument of exclusion based on evidence from a reputable international body, the World Bank, to support the case. The use of data not only presents figures to support the claim that there are a certain number of persons with disabilities, but also reinforces that by demonstrating how the group faces exclusion. Without this data, the argument that persons with disabilities are excluded become less powerful. A disability advocate, like any other advocate, needs research findings to support their claims. Without data from these research findings, an advocacy campaign is only based on the words of the person advocating and definitely not as powerful to lead to policy changes.

The disability data portal will be one of the most powerful platforms for governments, researchers, and disability rights advocates to obtain data. As it stands, disability data is very limited and scattered, which makes it harder to make good advocacy campaigns. The portal is a step towards achieving disaggregated data for persons with disabilities from across multiple countries at a time when it is most needed. Especially given the rise in advocacy campaigns on disability rights. A strong policy change campaign brings stories, it brings experiences of persons with disabilities, and it brings data. Finally, we now have the data.

As a junior researcher and aspiring policy analyst, to me, the data portal is a goldmine. I have access to compiled data from multiple countries on various topics around disability and inclusion sourced from reputable organizations. The portal gives me a chance to form strong arguments when presenting disability data during advocacy and when writing reports. It gives me ammunition to bring to policy-makers in order to make the case for stronger and quicker action.

Data is a powerful tool to include in disability campaigns as supported by the National Network for Oral Health Access who note that:

“High quality advocacy pairs two things: personal stories and data. Personal stories give a face to the issue being discussed, they make it real and they inspire change. Data confirms that those stories are not just singular events, provides a reason to act on a population level, and makes the case for particular intervention.”

As such, I will no doubt make use of the portal in my research work, as will others who are interested in getting the figures to support their stories and writings.



Leonard Cheshire

International commentary from Leonard Cheshire’s academic/research team. For more stories go to: