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 in Columbia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mongolia and Sierra Leone. Partners include: Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre (SLURC), Kota Kita, El Comité, National Institute for Urban Affairs (NIUA), Kilimanjaro Blind Trust Africa (KBTA), Kiran Society, AIFO, Tegsh Niigem and Universal Progress ILC.

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


  • LAunch photo Medellin Cover Image

    Inclusive Infrastructure Case Study Launched in Medellín, Colombia - Exploring Inclusive Environments

    Global Disability Innovation Hub
    Aug. 10, 2023

    Medellín, Colombia is the sixth and final case study city under the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) led and UK Aid funded AT2030 Inclusive Infrastructure sub-programme. Colombia’s second largest city, Medellín is well-known for its progress in urban development in the last 20 years, moving forward from its violent history. Medellín has been designated a district of innovation and is known for innovative urban projects such as its cable cars and electric escalators that connect higher altitude, low-income communities on the peripheries of the city. This case study explores the current state of accessibility and inclusion in the city for persons with disabilities and helps understand whether such urban innovations are inclusive for all the city’s residents.

  • Medellin launch graphic with image of the city Cover Image

    Inclusive Design and Accessibility of the Built Environment in Medellín - an Inclusive Infrastructure Case Study from Colombia

    This case study shares findings and recommendations for infrastructure, built environment and urban development - with the aim of driving global action to more accessible and inclusive cities. Building a picture of the current state of the built environment in Medellín, to understand the potential for inclusive design to address barriers to inclusion for persons with disabilities.

  • Coloured photograph of Medellin taken from above Cover Image

    Launch event Inclusive Design Medellín

    Global Disability Innovation Hub
    July 14, 2023

    An online event to share the findings and recommendations for infrastructure, built environment and urban development in Medellín, Colombia.

  • 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).


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