Mapping Disability Inclusiveness

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021

On the 2nd March 2021, as part of its annual Board meetings, the European Disability Forum (EDF) hosted a moderated online meeting to discuss our work in international cooperation and disaster risk reduction. One of the topics discussed was the Mapping Disability Inclusiveness project, with findings presented by EDF’s Marion Steff and project consultant Polly Meeks.

Overview of the project
Funded by CBM Global, Mapping Inclusiveness sought to determine what different countries across Europe are truly doing to encourage disability inclusion and accessibility in their humanitarian and international cooperation efforts. The project serves two main purposes:
○ Providing an overview of what the Member States are doing in their countries
○ Providing guidance and information to EDF members support their national advocacy to
The countries addressed in this project and the relevant findings can be found on the EDF website.

Commitments of agencies and adherence
There is a promising number of good practices across several countries, with clear strategies focusing on international cooperation and disability. For instance, the UK introduced a full and extensive strategy on disability inclusion in 2018. The Disability Policy (DAC) Marker displays how many entries in the OECD’s database address disability inclusion, which is an excellent step in the right direction, but it is still relatively new and is not a mandatory requirement. Ireland, Italy, and Finland are at the forefront of this commitment. Disaggregated data remains an issue for many countries sampled here. Finland has an extensive framework in this regard and is a stand-out member. Peer-pressure across EU member states is a valuable tool for standardizing valuable practices. For instance, Norway and the UK play a leadership role at the global level. They are very active in the Global Action on Disability (GLAD) Network; the UK hosted the Global Disability Summit in 2018 while Norway will host the next one in 2022.

Areas of apparent struggle
Human resourcing on disability work remains an issue for many of the sampled countries;
Budgeting for disability inclusion also often presents an issue as none of the sampled countries could produce a clear policy on this topic;
● There remains a risk of funds being spent on projects that are not compliant with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
Standardization of documentation could serve to make this information more accessible across the entirety of the EU

Engagement with Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (DPOs)
Collaboration with DPOs among the sampled countries equates to a broad spectrum between DPO-consultancy and full engagement and cooperation. For most, there was some form of an effort to include DPOs, but there is substantial room for improvement. Sources of funding for DPOs and programs also cover quite a range of adherence. A positive example is Spain which has reached out to DPOs for advice on policies affecting the Global South and capacity building in Latin America. This is a rare occurrence among the sampled countries. Most stop short of fully including DPOs in mainstream policy decisions and this area could benefit from more attention.
Overall, there has been an encouraging amount of momentum in regard to expanding disability inclusion with several countries making strides in different areas, but there remains substantial room for improvement and standardization across the board.

Article prepared by Dahlia Riley, intern at EDF.

Marion Steff, PhD – EDF’s International Cooperation Manager