For Linh Nguyen and her brother, two Vietnamese children who were born deaf, this coordinated approach brought sign language training, deaf mentors as role models, and support for her family. The Vietnamese government now includes sign language as a tool for inclusive education.
“Teachers come to my house to teach me to sign,” she said. “They also teach my brother Tu, my grandfather, my father, and everyone else in my family. Now, we can all speak the same language.”
Ensuring inclusion and equitable opportunity is at the core of the World Bank’s work to build sustainable, inclusive communities, aligned with the institution’s goals to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity in a sustainable manner. But in many countries, persons with disabilities are excluded from fully participating in social and economic growth.
“A country’s economic, legislative, physical, and social environment can create barriers that preclude persons with disabilities from participating in economic, civic, and social life,” said Maninder Gill, Social Development Director for the World Bank's Social, Urban, Rural, and Resilience Global Practice.
Carmen Nonay, Practice Manager for SURR’s Partnerships and Resource Mobilization Unit, said the new partnerships demonstrate the urgency and importance of the disability issue. “At the strategic level, these partnerships will help develop the necessary policies and frameworks to support the inclusion of people with disabilities. At the operational level, they play a pivotal role working with civil society and community-based organizations. The cumulative effect will take our disability work to the next level,” said Nonay.
In 2011, the World Bank and the World Health Organization published the first global report on disability and development – the World Report on Disabilities – which significantly raised the profile and increased the dialogue around the issue.
Since then, the World Bank has worked to advance the social and economic development of persons with disabilities, mainstreaming disability into its operations by bringing together its units on health, education, transport, social protection, fragility, conflict and violence, and public-private partnerships.
To help draw attention to the issue during its recent annual Spring Meetings in April, the World Bank hosted an event featuring the Finnish musician SIGNMARK and the obstacles he faced on his way to becoming the first deaf rapper to sign a record deal, as well as an event on inclusive education.
The Bank’s work on disability issues spans a wide range of sectors, ranging from access to infrastructure and social services to influencing policy to working with disabled people’s organizations. The World Bank has conducted independent analysis and studies on poverty and disability in developing countries, as well as research and operational work to improve access to transportation for people with limited mobility in the Middle East and North Africa.
Around the globe, the Bank is working on a wide variety of projects to help persons with disabilities, including:
- Bangladesh: the Disability and Children at Risk Project helped expand the network of services for children at risk, including children with disabilities.
- Nepal: the Enhanced Vocational Education and Training project focused on strengthening technical education targeted especially to disadvantaged groups, including persons with disabilities.
- Kyrgyz Republic: the Bank supported the creation of community-based infrastructure services – including health clinics and schools – focusing on accessibility for persons with disabilities.
- Egypt: the Cairo Airport Terminal 2 Rehabilitation Project supported improved accessibility measures. Today, the new airport is disability-friendly.
- Iraq: the Emergency Disabilities Project supported the delivery of improved rehabilitation and prosthetic services for people with disabilities.
- India: the Education for All Project aims to provide relevant education to all children in the 6-14 years age group, training teachers to adapt the curriculum and make the necessary accommodations to meet the academic and social needs of children with disabilities.
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