In commemoration of the Disability Inclusive Democracy Year of Action, stemming from the Summit for Democracy, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) is pleased to announce the publication of a new resource to support the political rights of people with disabilities.
Developed with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Developing a Disability Inclusion Policy: A Strategic Planning and Implementation Guide for Election Management Bodies provides necessary tools and strategies for electoral management bodies (EMBs) to codify inclusion of people with disabilities across their policies and procedures. IFES and our organizations of persons with disabilities (OPD) partners have found that disability inclusion is often left to the goodwill of allies within the commission rather than being included as a policy commitment or integrated into strategic planning.
This publication addresses gaps in practice that IFES has identified through the global implementation of disability-inclusive democracy programs and targeted consultations and surveys with organizations of people with disabilities and EMBs in 13 Eastern Partnership and Western Balkans countries. Findings of an IFES survey revealed that none of the EMBs surveyed had a standalone disability inclusion policy. The survey also showed that few EMBs had hired people with disabilities to serve as commissioners, senior management, or staff or had appointed a disability rights focal point at the EMB.
The guidebook outlines the relevant considerations, strategies, and tools necessary to make political processes more inclusive of persons with disabilities. It is intended for election officials at every level and can also provide insights to other stakeholders, such as organizations of persons with disabilities, election observers, media, ministry officials, political parties, and the private sector. The guidebook takes a step-by-step approach to disability-inclusive policymaking by providing relevant global examples and recommendations.
The guide contains several sections:
- Section One: Meaningful Participation highlights key international and regional legal frameworks for disability inclusion in political life and provides guidance for EMB engagement with people with disabilities and OPDs.
- Section Two: Institutionalizing Disability Inclusion provides good practice examples for codifying disability inclusion across all functions of an EMB, such as by forming an Election Access Working Group and developing a Memorandum of Understanding between EMBs and OPDs.
- Section Three: Key Topics for Inclusion in a Policy provides recommendations for disability-inclusive policy development and implementation across many competencies, including training of EMB staff, procurement of assistive devices and technology, and developing accessible and inclusive voter education.
This handbook was developed by IFES’s Europe Democracy Exchange (IFES EDE) office in Prague, Czech Republic. Through the USAID-supported “Regional Election Administration and Political Process Strengthening” (REAPPS) program, IFES EDE engages stakeholders in Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, and the Balkans working on electoral issues. IFES EDE supports professional development events featuring experience sharing, innovative approaches, evidence-based solutions, and peer-to-peer learning. IFES EDE specializes in election administration, inclusion, disinformation, cybersecurity, political finance, and electoral jurisprudence. We would also like to thank the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) for their core funding support.
Download: Developing a Disability Inclusion Policy: A Strategic Planning and Implementation Guide for Election Management Bodies