Prepared by the Global Disability Innovation Hub and partners for the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
Medellín, Colombia is the sixth and final case study city under the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) led and UK Aid funded AT2030 Inclusive Infrastructure sub-programme. Colombia’s second largest city, Medellín is well-known for its progress in urban development in the last 20 years, moving forward from its violent history. Medellín has been designated a district of innovation and is known for innovative urban projects such as its cable cars and electric escalators that connect higher altitude, low-income communities on the peripheries of the city. This case study explores the current state of accessibility and inclusion in the city for persons with disabilities and helps understand whether such urban innovations are inclusive for all the city’s residents.
Medellín is home to nearly 80,000 persons with disabilities and Colombia does have strong legal frameworks in place to support persons with disabilities. However, this case study found that the numerous laws and regulations are not always well implemented and there is also a need to consider more diverse disabilities in city planning and design.
The research took place in 3 phases between December 2022 and May 2023, combining both virtual and face to face approaches. Phase 1 focused on understanding the current state of accessibility through desk-based research and interviews. Phase 2 captured the lived experience of persons with disabilities through interviews, photo diaries and co-design activities. Phase 3 then synthesised the findings, running multiple in-person workshops to validate and create actions towards the creation of more inclusive environments. Thematic analysis was applied to understand the research data, identifying key themes across three different stakeholder groups of People, Policy, and Practice.
The themes identified span across daily life for persons with disabilities including, poverty, transport, housing, healthcare, public spaces and recreational activities. Quotes from participants are interwoven throughout the report and strengthen the concluding actions. The report recognises what has worked in Medellin as well as areas for improvement.