SP 10: Inclusive Infrastructure

Led by GDI, ‘Inclusive Infrastructure’ is a 3-year sub-programme, which considers the idea that equal access to AT is dependent on an enabling physical environment. Engaging stakeholders who help shape the built environment, with the inclusion and participation of AT users.

A person pushing a wheelchair down a muddy track

Built environment barriers to assistive technology and accessibility in unplanned settlements in Ulaanbaatar.  

(Image captured from a participant photo diary in case study 1 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia)


The aim of the research is to build evidence on the awareness, understanding, acceptance, application and experience of Inclusive Design and accessible environments globally, particularly in lower and middle-income countries by conducting research in three areas:

  1. The community experience of disability and the built environment
  2. Practice focused research on the awareness and application of inclusive design
  3. Policy-focused research on the governance, guidelines and protections of inclusive design at the highest levels

The overarching research question

‘What is the current state of inclusive and accessible environments and infrastructure in LMICs, and what is the role of inclusive design in creating an enabling environment for disabled people?’

Local and specific knowledge of environments

Globally, the terms used to discuss inclusion in the built environment vary. In the UK, inclusive design is more commonly used, but globally universal design and design for all can be more common. Inclusion agendas across international development frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals and new urban agenda are broad, and do not focus specifically on the needs and aspirations of disabled people.

The Inclusive Infrastructure team want to build local and specific knowledge of what constitutes an inclusive environment in diverse low and middle income countries, by engaging directly with community, practice, industry and policy in cities in low- resource settings to ensure insights and actions are appropriate and adaptable to diverse contexts. By conducting research on both the awareness, understanding, practice and policy of inclusive design in low-resource settings, and the experienced accessibility and inclusivity of the built environment - the team anticipates primarily benefitting Global South locations and FCDO priority countries. The hope it that the research will also have benefit for the most vulnerable communities globally, including excluded and low-resourced communities in high-income settings.

Challenges around inclusive design and accessible environments in lower-and-middle-income settings include:

  • Low understanding and implementation of inclusion measures across a whole project life cycle
  • The enforcement and awareness of both regulations and good practice
  • A lack in understanding of inclusive design and engagement through all stakeholders in the built environment industry, from policy and planning to design and construction
  • A need for the voices of disabled people in these processes to be more often heard and integrated
  • International policy and frameworks for inclusion are currently not embedded, and need to be mobilised at a local level where research on the challenges and opportunities for inclusion in the built environment across diverse stakeholder groups will be valuable


  • A group photo members present during the launch of the  AT guidelines and policies Cover Image

    AT Standards and Procurement Guidelines Launch Freetown, 12 April 2023

    Global Disability Innovation Hub, Harrison Kamau
    May 4, 2023
    Sierra Leone

    Persons with disabilities face multiple challenges. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 1.3 billion people worldwide experience significant disabilities, representing 16% of the world's population or 1 in 6 individuals. Additionally, persons with disabilities are at a higher risk of developing various health conditions and may experience premature mortality.  To address these challenges in Sierra Leone, the Ministry of Health & Sanitation, with support from Clinton Health Foundation (CHAI) and other technical partners, conducted a landscape assessment of assistive technology (AT) services in Sierra Leone in 2019. The assessment revealed critical gaps in the Assistive Technology (AT) landscape, including the absence of a policy and strategy for AT, which posed challenges for planning and implementing evidence-based AT activities in the country.

  • Report front cover Cover Image

    Press Release: Inclusive Design and Accessibility of the Built Environment in Freetown

    Global Disability Innovation Hub, SLURC
    April 12, 2023
    Sierra Leone

    Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) and Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre (SLURC) are delighted to invite you to the launch of this new case study considering Inclusive Design and Accessibility of the Built Environment in Freetown as part of the UK aid funded AT2030 sub-programme, ‘Inclusive Infrastructure’ - exploring the role of inclusive environments to enable equal access to Assistive Technology (AT).

  • Cover of the report, featuring title on a green background Cover Image

    Inclusive Design and Accessibility of the Built Environment in Freetown - an Inclusive Infrastructure Case Study from Sierra Leone

    Global Disability Innovation Hub, SLURC
    April 11, 2023
    Sierra Leone

    This case study explores the current state of the infrastructure provision - and makes recommendations for opportunities to imbed accessibility and inclusion across Freetown.

  • Image of Freetown in Sierra Leone, photo overlooking a section of the city, showing a fairly high concentration of buildings, and a busy roads with traffic and people walking. Cover Image

    Launch Event: Inclusive Design and Accessibility of the Built Environment in Freetown, Sierra Leone

    Louise Gebbett
    April 11, 2023
    Sierra Leone

    A launch event of Freetown's Inclusive Design and Accessibility of the Built Environment Case Study. This event will share findings and recommendations for infrastructure, built environment and urban development - with the aim of driving global action to more accessible and inclusive cities.

  • Opportunities and challenges for disability inclusion during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Giulia Barbareschi, Mikaela Patrick
    Feb. 19, 2023

    Measures implemented by governments worldwide in response to the escalation of the COVID-19 global pandemic have had a significant impact on everyone. Lockdown and physical distancing policies have led many people to spend the majority of their time at home, only leaving the house for basic essentials and relying on digital infrastructure and delivery services for work, learning, socialising and receiving supplies more than ever before. However, many people with disabilities might be affected by some of these changes in unique and unexpected ways, both positively and negatively.


Headshot of Iain McKinnon smiling and talking using a microphone

Iain McKinnon

Co-founder and Director of Operations & Inclusive Design
Ahmad Rifai's profile photo

Ahmad Rifai

Co-Founder & Executive Director
Fuad Jamil (AA)'s profile photo

Fuad Jamil (AA)

Community Engagement Facilitator
Nina Asterina's profile photo

Nina Asterina

Researcher & Project Manager