Each month CIP invites an expert to pose an important question dealing with some aspect of inclusive policies.

We then invite all of you to participate in an on-line written discussion. At the end of the month, our expert will summarize the main results of that discussion in a blog. If you would like to pose a “question of the month” please write to us on our contact page.


How can we best build effective cooperation between Organizations of People with Disabilities and governments? Do you have any successful examples?


Abdus Sattar Dulal


  • This topic has 3 replies, 1 voice, and was last updated 1 week ago by Saima Ahad.
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    • #9576 Reply
      Abdus Sattar Dulal
      • Participant
    • #9590 Reply
      Bailey Grey

      Organisations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) usually use community organising as their modus operandi, which involves a long-term democratic process in a community (disability community in this case) that builds relationships within the community and externally, develops a shared vision and shared goals, takes collective action to bring about change on shared problems, and seeks to empower members of the community and transform the power dynamics. OPDs share some similarities with NGOs, (e.g., they may both engage in policy-advocacy work), but this community organising model differs because it is a democratic model seeking to change the power dynamics through relationships and collective action.

      There are many forms of community organising, and there is no single effective model. For example, some community organising models seek to redress disparities in distributive justice and, therefore, challenge power between decision-makers and persons with disabilities, which is often met with resistance. As a result, an adversarial and public approach is often considered necessary, e.g., calling the government out for inequality. Alternatively, some OPDs use a more collaborative model that is constructive and focuses on building strong relationships with government and decision-makers. This approach tends to be carried out in private through meetings and seeks to influence change based on positive relationships. In reality, many OPDs use a mix of these approaches, depending on the context. Regardless of the approach, most OPDs also rely on building alliances with other OPDs, civil society, journalists, and other public figures.

      I would like to challenge the notion that OPDs should be building effective cooperation with government as an essential or given approach. In many cases, it may be better to build cooperation. However, a key aim of OPDs is to change the power dynamics between persons with disabilities and decision-makers, and sometimes this requires a strategic decision to not cooperate, but to disrupt and challenge government in order to be heard or taken seriously. OPDs should be supported in their chosen approach, for only they know the power dynamics.

      If, however, cooperation is the goal, the best approach is to build relationships with decision-makers over time, e.g., through meetings with officials, media coverage, awareness raising workshops/ trainings, providing credible, high-quality advice or briefings, etc. Over time, OPDs can gain the trust of officials through their consistency and credibility. A personal connection between OPD members and individuals in government can go a long way to building relationships. It is also key for OPDs to have a strong support network through their allies, who can connect them with government, and in the internal relations between OPD members (because a fractious OPD is not likely to manage government relations well or appear in a positive light before government). There is no short-cut to cooperation. It is all about building power through relationships. However, the government must first be open to this and willing to break down the power inequalities that exist between persons with disabilities and governments.

    • #9591 Reply
      Liesbeth Roolvink – Deputy Technical Director Inclusive Education- Sightsavers

      This is indeed an important question, which has guided the design and coordination mechanisms in our Inclusive Futures education project in Nigeria. We have adopted a participatory, inclusive design phase where we brought key stakeholders from government and civil society, in particular OPDs together to conduct a situation analysis and plan for an innovative response to promote inclusive education in mainstream schools in Nigeria. This participatory design process let to the Support Mainstreaming Inclusive Education to all learn Equally (SMILE) project, which is overseen by a steering committee, comprised of 15 government officials and 5 OPD representatives, who jointly manage the project and make decisions on progress, adaptations etc.

      Here is a blog about the design phase:


    • #9633 Reply
      Natasha Layton

      Although Australia is a high income country, decades of policy stagnation and a failure to link assistive product funding to inflation has led to clear inequalities in ‘who gets what’. These inequalities have led to an organised ‘resistance’ in the form of the ‘Assistive Technology for All’ campaign ( More than 60 civil society organisations including disabled persons organisations have come together to fund, volunteer and work on a campaign to achieve equality in assistive technology for Australia. Representing a wide and cross-cutting set of stakeholders for whom assistive technology is an essential enabler and human right, ATFA recently published the AT Equity Studies which ‘hold up a mirror’ to policy failings, offer an economic analysis of AT expenditure, and propose a blueprint for rights-based provision (reference:

      Through commissioning research, and running campaigns, the ATFA stakeholders, with the leadership of DPO’s, find themselves now invited to brief government as to policy reform.

    • #9667 Reply
      Saima Ahad

      Many OPDs are usually viewed with mistrust both by the general public and the government functionaries due to their NGO character and several incidents of unethical practices. Therefore, any well meaning OPD has an uphill task of first establishing trust and then showcasing their good work. One single thing which may go a long way is to network with the government functionaries on personal level. Like any other areas, these personal links go a long way in convincing govt functionaries of the good will of the OPD. In an success model in my country Pakistan, participants for para Olympics are drawn from government run schools and are prepared by an OPD for special Olympics. Those children with disabilities who have won events are given space on the media and thus the OPD also gets known by the government functionaries. Its one example of coallboartion.

      However, one area which is seriously lacking is that the OPDs don’t find representation when the government makes fiscal allocations for different areas, therefore, distributive justice is not delivered effectively.

      The bottom line is that the OPDs shall explore networking options at personal level with the relevant government functionaries to move forward.

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