Disability rights

Disability rights are human rights. Together, we can create a more equal world where everyone can access education, employment, health care and full participation in society without stigma or discrimination.

Enock attends an inclusive pre-school in Malawi.

Globally, 1.3 billion people have a disability. Yet disability inclusion remains a neglected area of global development.

More than 800 million people with disabilities live in low and middle income countries, and 18% of all women have a disability. Many people with disabilities are routinely denied their basic human rights and face stigma and discrimination, while women and girls with disabilities often experience additional barriers.

Supporting people with disabilities has been a vital part of Sightsavers’ work since 1950.  Along with our partners and the support of funders and donors, we fight for the rights of people with disabilities to go to school, find a job, access the health care they need, and take part fully in society.

We’re creating a world where no one is left behind.

We have a wealth of inclusion knowledge

Meet our experts

Why are disability rights so important?

Disability doubles a child’s chances of being out of school, and girls with disabilities face disproportionate discrimination.

Globally, before the pandemic, an estimated one-third of children who were out-of-school had disabilities. School closures have led to a greater learning crisis and increased exclusion.

We believe every child has the right to education and, through our education work, we’ve shown that change is possible.

Sightsavers and inclusive education

While most of the 1.3 billion people with disabilities around the world are of working age, only about a third are in employment. Their chances to earn a living are often limited by stigma, discrimination and a lack of accessible workplaces.

We work with people with disabilities to build their skills and confidence, and with businesses, governments and organisations of people with disabilities to create more inclusive employment and livelihood opportunities.

About our employment projects

Good health and wellbeing is a fundamental human right, allowing children to go to school and adults to earn a living.

But people with disabilities often experience poorer health than their peers, often because of discrimination and stigma. More than 400 million people worldwide lack access to even basic health care. We believe everyone, wherever they live, should be able to receive quality, affordable care.

Our work on accessible health

In many countries, electoral systems and local development initiatives aren’t inclusive, meaning people with disabilities are often excluded.

We support people with disabilities to participate in decision-making processes, advocate for local services and public policies to be more inclusive, and work in partnership with disability organisations to ensure people with disabilities can make their voices heard.

About citizenship and political participation

What we’re doing

  • We work with parents, schools, organisations of people with disabilities and governments to ensure that education systems are more inclusive, so that children with disabilities can access their right to a quality education.
  • We support people with disabilities to gain training and skills, and we work with companies to improve inclusion in workplaces so that people with disabilities can access career progression and development opportunities.
  • We work in partnership to make health facilities more accessible, train health care staff and community workers, provide accessible health information and support people with disabilities to make informed decisions about their health.
  • We support people with disabilities to participate in decision-making processes. We promote inclusive elections and work in partnership with disability organisations to ensure people with disabilities can exercise their right to vote and and advocate for inclusive local services and public policies.
  • We are working to strengthen the collection, analysis and use of disability-inclusive data through the Washington Group questions and our engagement with the Inclusive Data Charter.
  • We are committed to gender equality and upholding disability rights worldwide. Our disability inclusion projects empower women and girls with disabilities and we engage with and influence global policy-making.

Inclusive Futures

Sightsavers leads the consortium, which brings together more than 20 disability and development partners.

Visit the website

We conduct research to improve disability inclusion

Visit our research centre

How we’re fighting for disability rights

Nora teaching Glory, one of her students, how to count.

We are ensuring schools are inclusive

We work with partners to ensure young children with disabilities can learn, play and develop alongside their peers.
Read about our work

Two young people hold up flip charts on the wall as part of a training programme in Kenya.

We are training young people with disabilities

By providing vocational training, we ensure people with disabilities are able to financially support themselves.
About our IT training programme

An older man smiles as he holds his right hand over his eye during an eye test.

We are creating inclusive eye services

We’re working with governments in Uganda and Malawi to improve access to quality eye care services.
Read about inclusive health services

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Join the fight for rights

In many countries, people with disabilities face stigma and discrimination every day and are denied basic human rights.

We need your support to change this.

By taking action – signing petitions, contacting your political representatives or sharing stories on social media – you’ll be using your voice to help us reach the widest possible audience and keep disability rights on the global agenda.

Sign up to our Equal World campaign and join a global community of campaigners fighting for disability rights.

End is in sight logo

You can make a difference: Our Equal World campaign fights for the rights of people with disabilities to go to school, find a job and take part fully in society. Join our campaign