International Policy Institute

Disability Inclusive Development Initiative

What is DIDI?

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, promises international development will “leave no one behind”. Yet too often, persons with disabilities (PWDs) are left out of development programs and prevented from enjoying rights recognized by international law. Drawing on the University of Washington’s deep expertise in disability and socio-legal studies, international human rights law, and international studies, the Disability Inclusive Development Initiative works to promote the full realization of the human rights of persons with disabilities.  It is a multi-disciplinary research and advocacy project that seeks to leverage the rigor of academic scholarship to offer meaningful and practical support to development and rights practitioners in the field.

Core components of the project include:

DIDI Flyer

Download the DIDI Info. Sheet

  • Producing student and faculty written research briefs and policy analyses on a wide-range of issues, with particular attention to the ways in which social and other facts such as gender, age, ethnicity, indigeneity, sexual orientation and gender identity, and the like affect the experience of discrimination;
  • Building capacity among a diverse group of students including students with disabilities to conduct rights-based, participatory research that is disability-aware, and gender-sensitive, and preparing students to be global citizens committed to advancing social justice and inclusion;
  • Developing a robust research and knowledge production program integrated with advanced courses in the International Studies, Disability Studies, and Law, Societies and Justice departments centering the rights of persons with disabilities and contributing to global understandings of what works to support and sustain inclusion in practice.
Disability and Poverty infographic

Disability and Poverty (World Bank, 2018)



Current Project

There are an estimated 12 million persons with disabilities who have been forcibly displaced worldwide. They are among the most vulnerable within displaced communities and face multiple barriers accessing basic services.

To support the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and better understand how effectively countries implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) for disabled refugees, student fellows are developing a comparative analysis of asylum procedures in Germany, Uganda, Colombia, Bangladesh, and the United States. As of mid-2023, these countries collectively held approximately 8 million people in refugee-like situations and others in need of international protection, of which an estimated 1.2 million are likely to be disabled. The analysis will assess how effectively each country’s asylum procedures respect the rights enumerated in the CRPD and ensure accessibility and reasonable accommodations, among other human rights protections, for refugees and asylum-seekers with disabilities. Students will present their findings to UNHCR staff in May 2024.

Learn more about UNHCR’s work for persons with disabilities

Project Support

Student Fellows

Policy Briefs

During Winter and Spring quarters, 10 undergraduate fellows drafted brief memos on promising steps to improve disability inclusion in education and women’s access to healthcare.  The briefs offer non-governmental organizations and those working in the fields of education and healthcare practical guidance and checklists to review their programs for inclusiveness.  The Fellows presented the briefs to an online panel including experts from USAID, Humanity and Inclusion, PATH, the Athena Network, Equal International, and the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security in May 2020. We are grateful for their feedback and support for the Initiative.

Past DIDI Fellows