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Inclusion of people with disabilities
Inclusion of people with disabilities
A child using an Assisted Hearing Device. Diversity - Inter-American Development Bank - IDB

The population with disabilities in LAC is projected to increase from 15% of the total population in 2020 to 20% by 2050.  This represents an increase from approximately 88 million to 150 million people.  Despite robust legal frameworks, people with disabilities face barriers to inclusion that both perpetuate social and economic gaps and limit autonomy.

Within LAC, all IDB countries have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, which serves as a roadmap for programs and policies.  Following this framework, the IDB’s approach to disability inclusion focuses on eliminating barriers that include inaccessible infrastructure, services that are not inclusive, fragmentation of programs, attitudes of service providers, as well as lack of data to be able to design policies.   Lines of action include support to inclusive education, early identification and certification of disabilities, economic inclusion, accessible infrastructure, adaptive sports, and digital accessibility.  Disability inclusion is happening throughout the IDB, with over 60 projects meeting the criteria for mainstreaming in the past 3 years.  

A child wearing headphones and using a computer. Economic inclusion - Inter-American Development Bank - IDB

We seek to ensure that quality services such as education and health are accessible to everyone. In Argentina, an initial project with the National Agency for Disability supported the digitalization, articulation, and interoperability of processes and databases with a new information system.  These changes will reduce the fragmentation of services for people with disabilities.  The recent loan will increase the number of people with disabilities who have timely access to basic benefits and services established in national regulations through strengthening services to for certification of disability. In addition, the initiative aims to strengthen the capacity of the National Disability Agency (ANDIS) to promote inclusion through the updating of related statistics, increasing knowledge, and training public officials about disability inclusion. 

A child using an Assisted Hearing Device. Development - Inter-American Development Bank - IDB

The early identification of disabilities is important to ensure that individuals receive the appropriate services and assistive technologies that promote healthy child development and full participation in activities in and out of school.   In Panama, neonatal vision and hearing screenings are being supported through an IDB loan.   In Guyana, an operation is being designed to identify children with disabilities and learning difficulties in schools as well as train teachers in the use of assistive technology to promote the inclusion of students with disabilities in mainstream schools. 

A person sitting in a wheelchair looking at the stairs. Transport - Inter-American Development Bank - IDB

The universal design approach implies planning for the needs of a diverse population from the outset, such that the final product is accessible and user-friendly to a diverse population.  Infrastructure can be adapted, but retrofitting accessibility is typically more costly than building it with the initial design. The concepts of reasonable accommodations and universal design are applied to public buildings, roads, and transportation among others. In 2022, the IDB published an Inclusive Service Guide for People with Disabilities in the Infrastructure Sector

A  close-up of an Assistive Listening System for the blind. Transport - Inter-American Development Bank - IDB

The overall lack of information regarding the accessibility of public infrastructure in LAC hinders the utilization of public services by people with disabilities. The IDB's initiative, Mapea lo Accesible, aims to foster the development of more inclusive and accessible cities, providing individuals with disabilities greater autonomy and opportunities. This project encourages citizen participation and leverages technological and innovative applications as mapping tools to enhance the accessibility of our public infrastructure. Mapea lo Accesible promotes accessible cities by utilizing crowdsourced information from five partner cities: Guadalajara (Mexico), Tegucigalpa (Honduras), La Paz (Bolivia), Uberlandia (Brazil), and Salvador de Jujuy (Argentina). By collecting citizen-based data on the accessibility of public infrastructure, the initiative empowers people with disabilities and assists governments in making informed policy decisions. The initiative also serves as a space to pilot technologies that promote accessibility in cities and facilitate the sharing of best practices. 

A bus with a door for people in wheelchairs. Jobs and Development - Inter-American Development Bank - IDB

In Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic, the IDB promoted the structuring of inclusive transport services with more than 100 buses equipped with universal accessibility criteria.  

A housing project for vulnerable families in Ecuador prioritizes people with disabilities for housing subsidies, as well as promotes universal design in housing construction. 

A group of women looking at a tablet. Employment - Inter-American Development Bank - IDB

The IDB promotes the inclusion of persons with disabilities in quality jobs. As part of our work to support the tourism sector in El Salvador, an IDB loan will train women and persons with disabilities to participate in the sector through employment or entrepreneurship. Expected results include an increase in the number of persons with disabilities with restricted mobility having access to adapted tourist lodgings of up to 20% in 2028. 

A man sitting at a desk reading a paper. Education - Inter-American Development Bank - IDB

The Productivity Pact Project in Chile is a public-private partnership initiative to strengthen labor market intermediation and employment for persons with disabilities .  The initiative aims to support the Employment Inclusion Law that was implemented in 2018, with the objective of increasing the share of people with disabilities in quality jobs. 

A woman in a video conference using sign language. Social inclusion - Inter-American Development Bank - IDB

In Colombia, the Bank supported the reform of key disability policies. The reform ensured accessible conditions for national education tests, and a new strategy within the public employment services to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities.  This resulted in an increase of 21% in the number of students with disabilities that signed up for national education tests and the certification of 48 employment centers with accessibility for persons with disabilities.    

Amputee sprinter using running prostheses. Private Sector - Inter-American Development Bank - IDB

To facilitate access for people with disabilities to engage in sports and promote their social and economic inclusion, the IDB project "En sus Marcas Listos... Inclusión" has been actively reinforcing national Paralympic structures in 11 countries across the region for the past 6 years. Through the exchange of experiences, homogenization of access routes to Para sports practice, and the creation of a regional training program, the aims are to increase the number of people with disabilities with access to sports and to improve the level of athletes. Moreover, the project strengthens inclusion mechanisms by fostering synergies with governments and the private sector. 

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