Moving from Inclusion to Infiltration

A woman from Myanmar, who has cerebral palsy, bowing in a fashion show in traditional dress
Make a Change! New strategies in the field of international development

Begin a new strategy of working toward inclusion by practicing “infiltration” - proactively participating in the services which, as members of your communities, are rightfully yours.

Billions of foreign assistance dollars are allocated toward improving communities through programs such as, entrepreneurship and job training, microfinance, health, education, political participation, emergency response, food security, water and sanitation, leadership training, and women and girls empowerment. These are your programs.

However, these life-changing programs have historically excluded people with disabilities. Recent efforts to further promote inclusive development have relied on convincing the development community to change.

To accelerate change, people with disabilities must take the lead by moving the paradigm from inclusion to infiltration. You have the knowledge and the resources to alleviate some of the world’s biggest problems. Don’t wait, infiltrate!

Six Ways to Begin Infiltration

  1. Educate yourself on the priority development issues in your community. Be able to articulate how disability inclusion is a development issue.
  2. Be familiar with international policies (i.e. the USAID Disability Policy, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the InterAction PVO Standards). Know how these policies guarantee your right to participate in these programs, including receiving reasonable accommodations.
  3. Set up informal meetings to develop relationships with key staff from NGO and government agencies. Discuss how disabled people in your community can be part of existing programs.
  4. Explain the twin-track approach. Emphasize the need for both disability specific programs as well as disability mainstreaming into all programs.
  5. Offer your expertise on disability inclusion to ensure that people with disabilities will be successful as participants in mainstream programs and policies.
  6. Bring people with disabilities directly to existing programs. Request reasonable accommodations, as needed.

“We need to move from inclusion to infiltration.”
– Susan Sygall, CEO, Mobility International USA (MIUSA), 2012 Disability, Millennium Development Goals and Aid Effectiveness conference, Thailand.