Undergraduate DIDI Fellows Jessica Niewohner and Shannon Pierson and DIDI faculty co-leader Stephen Meyers published “‘Leave no one behind’? The exclusion of persons with disabilities by development NGOs” in Disability & Society, the top scholarly journal for Disability Studies. The article is based on a year-long faculty-student research project that surveyed the disability inclusion policies and practices of international development non-governmental organizations.
Persons with disabilities have a right to be included in international development, yet persons with disabilities in the Global South are overwhelmingly excluded from development-related activities. While many states have developed disability inclusive policies for official foreign aid, many private international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have failed to do so. In response to this gap, the Disability Inclusive Development Initiative at the University of Washington began an ongoing research study of small and medium-sized international NGOs. Thus far, surveys collected and depth interviews have revealed four major barriers to inclusion on the part of mainstream development NGOs: 1.) lack of awareness, 2.) belief that persons with disabilities constitute a separate focus area, 3.) assumption that the costs of inclusion are too high, and 4.) believing that others, such as governments or families, are responsible for ensuring access and accommodations, rather than the NGO itself.