Millennium Development Goals and Disability

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were drawn from targets set by the Millennium Declaration, adopted by 189 nations in September 2000. The eight goals, to be achieved by 2015, are aimed at combating all aspects of global poverty and social exclusion and include specific indicators for measuring progress.

However, a key failure of the MDGs has been the exclusion of disability issues and disabled people in the process. Ten percent of the global population is disabled (WHO) and yet not one of the MDG indicators addresses the rights and needs of disabled people. The impact of this exclusion is considerable:

- Only one to two percent of disabled children in developing countries go to school (UNESCO)
- Eighty two percent of disabled people live below the poverty line (World Bank)

The MDGs will not be achieved unless the rights of disabled people are comprehensively mainstreamed in all development action - with disabled people involved in decision-making at all levels.

This key list draws together policy documents, tools for implementation, resource manuals and websites to make an explicit connection between disability issues and each of the eight MDGs. It was compiled in partnership with an initiative of IDDC and the Millennium Campaign. Further resources related to the disability-inclusive post-MDG debate are featured on Post-MDGS and disability key list.

We welcome your suggestions: please send comments or suggested additions to

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Selected resources

Disability and the millennium development goals : a review of the MDG process and strategies for inclusion of disability issues in millennium development goal efforts


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This report provides an overview "for why and how disability can and should be included in the planning, monitoring and evaluation of MDG related programmes and policies." This report is useful to people working in disability advocacy, programming and outreach efforts, as well as people those working on MDG-related efforts

Disability inclusive millennium development goals and aid effectiveness : a conference report

UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)

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This report presents the proceedings, discussions and presentations from a joint conference organised by Leonard Cheshire Disability and UNESCAP. The conference reviewed the international and regional mandates on disability and aid effectiveness, identified challenges and good practices in measuring the impact and quality of disability-inclusive development, and identified ways to implement disability-inclusive development effectively on the ground and at policy level. This report is useful for anyone interested in disability and development
"Disability inclusive millennium development goals and aid effectiveness"
14-16 March 2012
Bangkok, Thailand

Hear our voices : a global report

November 2006

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In this resource, intellectually disabled people and their families speak out about social exclusion and poverty. The broader scope of this work is to understand why this group has not managed to benefit from the millennium development goals and examine regional barriers to change. This document concludes with a set of recommendations and best practices from NGOs, civil society members and government officials. This resource would be useful for anyone with an interest in social exclusion disability and development

Implementation of the world programme of action concerning disabled persons : the millennium development goals and synergies with other United Nations disability instruments

July 2007

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This report aims to determine the overall efforts being made to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and the potential for synergy with other United Nations mechanisms focusing on the rights of persons with disabilities. It would be useful for anyone with an interest in mainstreaming disability

Keeping the promise : realizing the Millennium Development Goals for persons with disabilities towards 2015 and beyond

July 2010

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This report presents a "comprehensive biennial review on the implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, and the progress and challenges concerning the advancement of persons with disabilities in the context of development and the realization of the Millennium Development Goals." It consists of an introduction, five informative sections, and recommendations to advance disability-inclusive Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals by member states and other stakeholders. The detailed annexes provide further technical information in support of the recommendations

Millennium development goals (MDGs)


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This website presents background information and related resources about IDA's initiatives advocating for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the millennium development goals (MDGs)

The millennium development goals (MDGs) and disability


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This website reviews the millennium development goals (MDGs) process and strategies for inclusion of disability issues in MDG efforts. Useful links are provided to related resources, panel discussions, UN initiatives and other multi-stakeholder and civil society initiatives

Disability, poverty and development


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This is a major policy document from DFID, the British government's overseas aid department. It assesses the significance of disability as a key development issue, and its importance in relation to poverty, human rights and the achievement of internationally agreed development targets. It also sets out ways in which development cooperation, including DFID's own work, can help incorporate the rights and needs of disabled people into the mainstream of poverty reduction work and the achievement of human rights. It is useful for disability policy makers, NGOs and disabled people working in advocacy and development

Good practices for the economic inclusion of people with disabilities in developing countries : funding mechanisms for self-employment

Handicap International
August 2006

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This report aims to highlight good practices, strategies, tools and operational methods that guarantee the sustainability of projects that support access to funding mechanisms and the self-employment of people with disabilities. More specifically, the study focuses on the use of microcredit enterprises and grants for the start-up and expansion of microenterprises. Developed in partnership with a diverse range of organisations of/for people with disabilities and microfinance providers, the report highlights the significant exclusion of people with diabilities from mainstream microfinance institutions and subsequently presents two solutions: firstly to develop schemes that promote the inclusion of people with disabilites; secondly to develop financial services by organisations of/for people with disabilities themselves. This report would be of relevance to anybody working in the fields of international development, disability or microfinance

Social assistance and disability in developing countries

July 2007

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This study draws on the existing discourse to investigate social assistance to disabled people in developing countries. By taking the perspective of key stakeholders it examines the characteristics of mainstream and targeted social assistance programmes to understand how to best reach and benefit disabled people and organisations in the developing world. This resource would be useful for anyone with an interest in disability and development

Education's missing millions : including disabled children in education through EFA FTI processes and national sector plans [main report of study findings]

BINES, Hazel
September 2007

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This study aims to identify and tackle the barriers to inclusive education for disabled children. Specifically, it on the role of the Fast Track Initiative (FTI) Partnership in eliminating many of these barriers. To do so, this comprehensive work reviews the FTI guidelines and programme implementation in the education sectors of 28 countries. It concludes by exposing the gaps and providing recommendations

Embracing diversity : toolkit for creating inclusive, learning-friendly environments

et al

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This updated toolkit consists of 10 booklets each containing tools and activities for self-study to start creating an inclusive, learning-friendly environment (ILFE). Some activities ask readers to reflect on what their school is doing now in terms of creating on ILFE, others guide readers in improving their skills as teachers in diverse classrooms.
The toolkit includes three specialist booklets focusing on including learners with disabilities, positive discipline, and teaching large classes.
The toolkit aims to assist teachers to acknowledge the diverse range of backgrounds amongst students and to build on the strengths of the children. It can be adjusted to the specific needs of each school, classroom and child and should not be read as a 'recipe book'.
The booklets are easy to read and contain tables, illustrations, checklists and examples to illustrate the application of inclusive schools.
Specialized booklet 1: Positive discipline in the inclusive, learning-friendly classroom : a guide for teachers and teacher educators
Specialized booklet 2: Practical tips for teaching large classes: a teacher's guide
Specialized booklet 3: Teaching children with disabilities in inclusive settings
Booklet 1: Becoming an inclusive, learning-friendly environment (ILFE)
Booklet 2: Working with families and communities to create an ILFE
Booklet 3: Getting all children in school and learning
Booklet 4: Creating inclusive, learning-friendly classrooms
Booklet 5: Managing inclusive, learning-friendly classrooms
Booklet 6: Creating a healthy and protective ILFE

Guidelines for inclusion : ensuring access to education for all


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"This paper is intended to systematize how excluded children are planned for in education. It begins with a brief introduction, which provides a historical perspective on the origins of inclusion and describes the shift from integration towards inclusion. It is then divided into three main parts.
The first provides a theoretical framework. It defines inclusion, explains how it is founded in a human rights approach and how it relates to factors such as quality and cost-effectiveness.
The second part looks at more practical changes at the school level. It outlines the key elements in the shift towards inclusion with a particular focus on the key players including teachers, parents and educational policymakers as well as curricula.
The third part brings together the first two sections by providing tools for policymakers and educational planners for hands-on analysis of education plans."

Inclusive education : where there are few resources

September 2008

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This comprehensive overview of inclusive education in resource-poor settings looks at the basis for and origins of inclusive education. The book explains the concept of inclusive education in depth, suggests how it can be implemented, and looks at specific case studies and contexts. This resource is useful for professionals and organisations interested in inclusive education in developing countries

Schools for all : including disabled children in education


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These guidelines are primarily aimed at education staff who want to develop inclusive education practices, focusing on including disabled children in schools. It is also useful for community groups and NGOs and those working in CBR who need to provide input into inclusive education work; and is relevant to readers working in out-of-school situations.
The book builds on Save the Children’s experience prior to 2002. Subsequent experiences are documented in ‘Making Schools Inclusive' (2009)

Gender and disability : a survey of InterAction member agencies. Findings and recommendations on inclusion of women and men with disabilities in international development programs

et al

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This is the report of a research project on the efforts of US non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to reach disabled people. It found that there was a lack of data on the participation of disabled people especially disabled women and girls, and that these groups were also under-represented among the participants of the NGOs' programmes

Integrating women and girls with disabilities into mainstream vocational training : a practical guide

SIM, Foo Gaik

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This manual describes the challenges women and girls with disabilities face in the context of vocational training and employment. It recommends action that can be taken to break the negative cycle of exclusion of women in the three fields of education, vocational training and employment .
The manual gives practical advice and background information on inclusive employment of women and will be of interest to NGOs and government organisations

A world fit for all children : including the rights of children with disabilities in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.|National plans of action : guidelines for inclusion

March 2003

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Many governments are in the process of developing National Plans of Action to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This document is intended to present suggested guidelines for how to include the rights of disabled children into action plans in a way that promotes and protects inclusion

Promoting the development of infants and young children with spina bifida and hydrocephalus : a guide for mid-level rehabilitation workers


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This manual explains the types, signs and causes of spina bifida and hydrocephalus describing how to assess the child’s level of development and complications. It gives suggestions on how to promote the child’s normal development, mobility, self-care and education with examples of equipment that can be made from local materials

Where there is no doctor : a village care handbook|Donde no hay doctor

May 2007

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This book was written specifically for village health workers in situations where there is no doctor. It provides a holistic view of the determinants of health in villages, using simple language with many illustrations. It maintains its original pagination, adding new information throughout and extra information in coloured pages e.g. new information is on blue pages.
One chapter focuses on health and sicknesses of children, containing information on how to use growth charts and understanding malnutrition and other health issues. Other chapters include: home cures, sicknesses that are often confused, healing without medicines, the right and wrong use of modern medicines, antibiotics and how to use them, common sicknesses, first aid, nutrition, prevention, and serious illnesses that need special medical attention. It is available in more than 80 languages

A health handbook for women with disabilities

DAVID, Darlena
February 2007

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This book deals with practical advice on health care for women with disabilities. It has been developed in partnership with health care professionals and disabled women in over 42 countries. It covers the key issues of disability in the community; accessible health care; mental health; sexual health; family planning; and child birth. The book is written in a practical and accessible style, suitable for anyone with an interest in disability, social development and women's health issues. In particular, the book offers a valuable insight into 'real-life' personal experiences of disabled women

On the margins : violence against women with disabilities

NAIDU, Ereshnee
et al
April 2005

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This report explores why disabled women are more susceptible to violence then non-disabled women. It further examines how service providers respond to their needs, and the barriers associated with accessing proper assistance. The authors also investigate the role of government in providing health services that provide equal and adequate support. This work tackles issues of social isolation, stigma, and human rights

Reproductive rights and women with disabilities : a human rights framework

January 2002

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This paper advocates that international human rights law be used to promote and protect the reproductive rights and needs of women with disabilities. In addition, this work examines the correlation between the following key areas: the right to equality, non-discrimination, reproductive health, physical integrity, and the right to marry. This work also features country based examples, addressing abuses that occur in China and Australia. This work would be useful for anyone with an interest in human/women's rights, reproductive rights and disability

Diabetes : to the point


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This website was created to communicate accessible health information for people with intellectual impairements. It features a management plan and a glossary of useful terms. This resource would be useful for anyone with an interest in diabetes and accessible health communication

Effective HIV/AIDS and reproductive health information to people with disabilities

MVULA, Peter
ALI, Sandra
October 2004

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This study explores the sexual and reproductive health needs and experiences of people with disabilities, as well as perceptions about HIV and AIDS and disability. The purpose is to address the accessibility of health communication for people with different impairments. This study would be useful for anyone with an interest in HIV and AIDS and disability

HIV/AIDS and disability: capturing hidden voices. Global survey on HIV/AIDS and disability

April 2004

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This is a report of the global survey carried out by the Yale School of Public Health and the World Bank, into the research, policies and programmes that concern the impact of HIV/AIDS on disabled people. The report outlines the research methods used and the findings of the research. It concludes that HIV/AIDS represents a significant threat to disabled individuals and populations around the globe, at rates at least comparable to and quite possibly significantly higher than those affecting the general public. Moreover, findings from the survey clearly document that individuals with disability are not included in most AIDS outreach efforts

Prevention of blindness and visual impairment


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This site gives information on vision and hearing disabilities, and their prevention worldwide. UN resolutions on the prevention of visual impairment and deafness are available from the site as well as country profiles. E-mail enquiries are invited

The Africa campaign on disability and HIV & AIDS

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The Africa Campaign is a unifying umbrella under which disabled people's organisations, organisations of people living with HIV & AIDS, non-governmental organisations, AIDS services organisations, researchers, activists, and other citizens work collectively to achieve two main objectives: a coordinated response involving persons with disabilities in African countries to achieve inclusive national HIV & AIDS policies and programmes; and equal access for persons with disabilities in Africa to information and services on HIV & AIDS. This website contains information about the campaign and key documents

Disasters, disability and rehabilitation

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO). Department of Injuries and Violence Prevention

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This paper describes the difficulties people with disabilities face following a disaster. The paper discusses disabled people's rehabilitation needs both during the 'acute' phase immediately after the disaster, and the longer-term reconstruction phase and discusses both institutional and community-based rehabilitation approaches are discussed

Free movement of people with disabilities in south east Europe : an inaccessible right?


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This report examines the policies and practices of countries in south east Europe to determine how they impact the lives of people with disabilities in relation to access to the built environment. The aim is to identify and highlight good practices, expose barriers in the built environment and explore the role of stakeholders in the reform process. This resource, also available in CD-ROM format, concludes with a set of recommendations designed to improve legislation. It would be useful for anyone with an interest in accessibility and promotion of good practices to influence policy development

Water supply and sanitation access and use by physically disabled people : revised inception report

JONES, Hazel
July 2003

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This report was produced at the end of phase 1 of the Knowledge and Research project : water supply and sanitation access and use by physically disabled people. The findings of phase 1 are built upon to produce this inception report for phase 2 of the project. The report describes phase 1 of the project and its findings. It summarises the implications of these findings and the key issues to be addressed in phase 2 of the project. It gives the project logical framework, workplan, and Output ot Purpose summary report

Women with disabilities - cooking, fires and smoke

RAHMAN, Farhat

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This article describes the difficulities of awareness raising in a remote province of Pakistan. It describes the work of the organisation POWER - the Promotion of Women, Empowerment and Rehabilitation - and the socio-cultural barriers it faces. This resource would be useful for anyone with an interest in gender issues, daily living, and barriers for disabled women in rural areas

APCD Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability

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The Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability seeks to promote regional cooperation for the Biwako Millennium Framework for action towards an inclusive, barrier-free and rights-based society for persons with disabilities in the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 2003-2012

Biwako millennium framework for action : towards an inclusive, barrier-free and rights-based society for persons with disabilities in Asia and the Pacific


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The document sets out a draft regional framework for action that provides regional policy recommendations for action by governments in the region and concerned stakeholders to achieve an inclusive, barrier-free and rights-based society for disabled people. The regional framework for action explicitly incorporates the millennium development goals and their relevant targets to ensure that concerns relating to disabled people become an integral part of efforts to achieve the goals

The Secretariat of the African decade of persons with disabilities (SADPD)

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This website aims to empower partnerships between governments, disabled people's organisations and development organisations to include disability and persons with disabilities in policies and programmes in all sectors of society in Africa. The priority activities for the African Decade are capacity building, advocacy, lobbying and awareness raising