What is disability inclusion?

Broadly speaking, disability inclusion refers to promoting and ensuring the participation of people with disabilities in education, training and employment and all aspects of society AND providing the necessary supports and reasonable accommodations so that they can fully participate. Disability inclusion is more than just inviting disabled persons to the table; it is assuring that they can get to the table, that the barriers to participation are removed. Such barriers are physical(such as architectural and transport), information and communication (such as training formats and information dissemination methods), policy and legal (lack of laws and policies or their implementation); institutional (such as lack of capacity), and attitudinal (such as negative attitudes and stereotypes).

The ILO adheres to the social model of disability. According to the model, the disadvantages disabled persons face result from the interaction of social barriers with the person’s impairment. Ensuring rights, removing barriers and including disabled persons in the full spectrum of society will reduce such disadvantages. In the area of employment and training, this will mean making vocational training and employment systems and centres inclusive of disabled persons by assuring they can access such services, that staff is trained to meet their needs and that specific services and supports are provided so that they can fully and equitably participate. In employment, their rights to non-discrimination and equal treatment and equal opportunities must be protected through national policies and the programmes that implement them.

Employment sector disability inclusion inititaive

The Employment Sector’s Disability Inclusion Initiative aims to:

1. Increase the ability and confidence of staff to address disability issues;
2. Foster and achieve the inclusion of the disability perspective and disabled workers in all aspects of the Employment Sector’s work;
3. Encourage and support a similar inclusion throughout the Organization.

Until full inclusion and equal opportunity and treatment become a reality, the twin-track approach is adopted. This means that in some cases, disability-specific programmes or initiatives are needed while also ensuring that disability perspectives are meaningfully included in mainstream services and activities of the Sector.

The Disability Team within the Skills and Employability Department has the primary responsibility in providing disability inclusion support and services to move the Disability Initiative forward. These supports include:

1. Providing expert responses, information and tools for questions and technical activities related to disability;

2. Providing coaching on how to include disability within knowledge development, advocacy and technical cooperation activities;
3. Disseminating information about disability issues and new developments, including about training, capacity building and funding opportunities;
4. Reviewing and providing guidance in the development of proposals, documents, tools and products;
5. Developing networks of partner organizations, expert consultants, trained volunteers and interested interns to respond to requests for expert or human resource inputs to disability activities that go beyond the delivery capacity of the Disability Team. 

For more information on ILO’s disability work, go to http://www.ilo.org/employment/disability

Or write: Disability@ilo.org