About one billion of the world’s population are persons with disabilities, yet they still remain “invisible in the global development agenda”. This could be attributed to the fact that the data available is insufficient, which makes it difficult to get a clear picture of the “true scale of the living conditions and development outcomes for persons with disabilities, and to get clarity on the degree to which persons with disabilities continue to be underserved.”
The disability divide as World Bank refers to it, is the gap created when persons with disabilities miss out on development programs, which sets them back significantly. And the COVID-19 has not made it any easier for them to cover their tracks as it has exposed them to more challenges that they might have been shielded from had they been included in these development programs.
Although most governments use the data collected during the census to address some of these issues, at times they fail to cover all the bases. This is why Microsoft and World Bank have come together with the help of the Disability Data Initiative at Fordham University to enhance “access to and the use of demographics and statistics data to ensure representation of disability” specifically in low and middle-income countries.
This has necessitated the launch of a disability data hub, which is set to provide comprehensive data on persons with disabilities across all spheres. The hub’s key principles include the provision of a user-friendly and accessible interface for a wide range of users, availing data analysis, and enhancing accessibility of visualization tools among others.
The launch of the disability data hub is part of the World Bank’s institutional commitment to persons with disabilities. As such, World Bank has introduced “cross-sectoral analytics” which are in place to ensure that their needs are well catered for. “These analytics have provided action-oriented direction for government officials and decision-makers in the areas of disaster risk management, water, and education. Progress on disability data collection has also informed policy commitments in IDA19 and IDA20 – the World Bank Group’s most recent funding cycles for the poorest countries – to strengthen the collection and use of disability disaggregated data.”
This partnership is geared toward ensuring that persons with disabilities are not overlooked. As such, the authorities at the helm will use the data and statistics to make policies so that they are not disadvantaged.
According to Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer, Jenny Lay-Flurrie:
Disability is a growing demographic, and COVID-19 has acted as a mass disabling event, growing the base of people with disabilities worldwide. The disability divide has been a reality for decades. This new disability data hub is a step forward in wrapping our arms around the demographics of disability in a more strategic, long-term way. Through partnership, we think we can make a tangible difference.
Hopefully, this new disability data hub will help narrow the gap created and create a sense of inclusion for people with disabilities which will go a long way in curbing any unforeseen challenges that may arise in the future.