For most people, the term accessibility refers to access: access to information, access to communication and access to basic needs. To disabled people, accessibility is a vital component in achieving their full participation in society; it has become society’s responsibility to reduce the barriers that prevent this access. Yet, comparative studies on disability laws show that only 45 countries in the world have disability-specific legislation, including laws related to accessibility, according to UN Enable.


Lack of access to services severely reduces independence and quality of life for disabled people. In the most extreme cases, lack of accessibility can even amount to a life and death issue. Persons with disabilities in developing countries are often forgotten when it comes to designing health and education programs, meaning that most never access even the basic services that human rights mechanisms ensure them. Factors such as extra costs, difficulties with transport, inability to enter public buildings and poorly adjusted housing all contribute to the isolation of disabled people in many parts of the world.

Some other statistics on Accessibility:

  • One in five of the world’s poorest people has a disability, and 82 percent of persons with disabilities live in developing countries, where accessibility is most often non-existent or extremely limited, according to the European Commission
  • Only one to two percent of persons with disabilities in Africa have access to health care, rehabilitation services and education, according to Disabled People South Africa
  • In the United Kingdom, 75 percent of companies listed on the London Stock Exchange FTSE 100 Index do not meet even basic levels of Internet accessibility, thus missing out on more than $147 million in revenue from the market sector of persons with disabilities, a UN Enable report found

RI Fact Sheet:Accessibility

Project: Raising Voices during the African Decade of Disabled Person

RI Work - Women with Disabilities 2

With the financial support of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), Rehabilitation International, in collaboration with the Disabled Organisation for Legal Affairs and Social Economic Development (DOLASED), Miracles in Mozambique (MIM) and Prof. Nora Groce of Yale University, carried out a project focused on HIV/AIDS, leadership and human rights education. It targeted adolescents and young adults with disabilities in Tanzania and Mozambique.

The project’s main goal was to build the capacity of emerging leaders from the disability community and of HIV/AIDS outreach workers in Tanzania and Mozambique to address disability-specific human rights issues in conjunction with HIV/AIDS awareness, as well as create prevention materials that met the particular needs of adolescents and young adults with disabilities. The primary beneficiaries of this project were adolescents and young adults with disabilities (ages 12-30) of both genders; there was a particular focus on ensuring that at least 50 percent of participants in all activities were young women.

The project produced three main outputs:

  • Increased enjoyment of additional rights for the full participation, equality and empowerment of persons with disabilities in Africa through more inclusive national legislation and partnerships among key actors.
  • Disability rights and HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention education materials and training manuals designed for adolescents and young adults with disabilities in Africa, with special emphasis on young women with disabilities; and
  • Disability rights and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention training models for emerging adult leaders from the disability community and for HIV/AIDS outreach workers.