Social inclusion of persons with psychosocial, intellectual and cognitive disabilities

Persons with disabilities – including psychosocial, intellectual and cognitive disabilities – are seldom meaningfully included in actions related to increasing their access to rights and entitlements. Interventions such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), World Health Organization (WHO) QualityRights, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and many other programs aimed at increasing their access to social and economic opportunities, and building their resilience to climate-change, and other emergencies, in most cases, are brought to them without their meaningful involvement in the design process.

Our interventions thus focus on advocating for and facilitating inclusion of persons with disabilities, in all their diversity, to actively, meaningfully, and equally, participate in national, community and family life. This entails ensuring that they are meaningfully involved at all stages of the project life cycle, strengthening their voices and participation when decisions on matters that affect them either directly or in directly, are being deliberated on, and ensuring that their experiences contribute to strengthening our interventions.

The challenge

Meaningful participation by persons with disabilities – including psychosocial, intellectual, and cognitive disabilities – at national, community and family level is yet to be attained in Kenya. Long held misconceptions and prejudices associated with disabilities are rife across all sectors of society, which negatively affect inclusion. Many people in society wrongly hold the belief that persons with disabilities cannot participate on an equal basis as those without disabilities. For this reason, families continue to exclude children with disabilities from education and other opportunities, communities exclude them from decision making, leadership, paid fair work and/or employment, service providers exclude them by not factoring in accessibility and inclusivity in service provision, whereas the Government has not fully implemented laws, policies, and international conventions on disability inclusion. This has thus resulted in persons with disabilities getting exposed to barriers to inclusion at almost every stage of their lives.

Our approach

To address the challenges highlighted above, we base our interventions on the Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID) approach to localise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the WHO Quality Rights.

The CBID approach is person-centred as it creates emphasis on community members and community-based organisations taking collective action to achieve sustainable change. It puts a strong focus on self-empowerment and self-advocacy, and meaningful participation by men, women, girls and boys with different types of disability, their families, organisations, communities, relevant government and non-government health, education, transport, livelihood, social and other programs and services.

This rights-based approach works to ensure that persons with disabilities are respected and meaningfully included in their communities on an equal basis in all areas of life thereby building resilient, equitable and inclusive communities.