OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Capacity Building in Rehabilitation 2.0 for Disabled People in Conflict Situations

The mobile 'RehApp' addresses the limited competences of fieldworkers to address the needs of disabled people in conflict situations.

Photo of Huib Cornielje
4 2

Written by

What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

The RehApp a mobile app which addresses the limited competences of rehabilitation fieldworkers to accurately ‘diagnose’ disabilities and subsequently address the needs of people with disabilities in low income countries and conflict areas. Rehabilitation services and resources are scarce in such situations and even if such services exist, they are often not well accessible to the majority of disabled people. These rehabilitation fieldworkers do not receive the formal education that rehabilitation professionals receive. As such they have to learn from trainings and workshops provided by the non-governmental sector. Our project team’s experience is that field workers are often not able to make accurate field diagnoses which is an essential first step in providing the right care, referral and that people with disabilities need. In our opinion and from previous experience with existing the first RehApp chapters which have been tested in a few countries, field workers would be supported in their daily work in helping disabled people to become more independent; better accepted and offering them better opportunities to play a meaningful role in society. Our innovation “RehApp” is an app for mobile phones that is: Intuitive and tailored for use by people with limited educational background, Visual and adapted to cultural and religious backgrounds Open source and free of charge to its users Operational in an offline setting, Specifically developed for lower-income countries and developed with input from the users as well as the ‘beneficiaries’: disabled people through ‘user-journeys’ and focus group discussions.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

We wish to further develop the RehApp for in fact the least resourceful areas which are formed by low-income and middle-income countries; countries recovering from (civil) war and natural disaster. The focus is primarily on African and Asian countries including countries in the Middle East.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

Disabled people often face more (complex) challenges than others who are on the move. Impaired mobility is often one of the most immediate needs among others; e.g. the need to be well-informed (people who are deaf, blind or intellectually disabled). However, after settling they may face serious discrimination at school, the workplace and in social life. Proper and timely rehabilitation and sensitization directed at disabled people and society at large may form a bridge to equal opportunities.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

We aim at solving the barriers faced by disabled people in society by paying attention to both the needs of disabled people as well as the various barriers to becoming part of society because it is that very same society that creates those barriers (deliberately or not). It will mean the RehApp is a capacity building tool for field workers that helps them in making the right choices about various interventions directed at both the person with a disability as well as society at large. The RehApp takes into consideration the needs of disabled people in all life domains and not health only. The RehApp takes also into consideration all barriers in society: not only the physical ones but also the institutional ones as well as the attitudinal ones: the latter are regard as the most pressing ones that need a lot of attention in ensuring the full participation of disabled people in society; their acceptance and their inclusion in all life domains.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Through this idea we wish to contribute towards the development of Disability Inclusive Communities in which societies will transform to such an extend that disabled people are welcome in that very same society. It would mean that societies become physically fully accessible and that its members are sensible to the needs of disabled people. At the same time, a Disability Inclusive Society has the necessary rehabilitation services required by disabled people to secure that they are able to participate fully in society and develop their lives with independence. It is the field workers who are not service providers only; rather they should be seen as change agents who pro-actively identify disabled people; together assess their needs and strengths and together work towards acceptance and inclusion. It should be noted that the RehApp as such is thus 'just' a tool that helps the fieldworker and ultimately the disabled person in making the right decisions about the right interventions.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

We have the feeling that with this development we together serve the field of disability where in general field workers do not get much training and live and work in countries where (rehabilitation) resources are scarce. Rehabilitation continues to be an underserved area and we are obliged to make sure that we serve the field with Information Based Rehabilitation. The ninety-eighty dream of the late Dr. Mike Miles when he wrote in Pakistan the publication 'Where there is no Rehabilitation' comes true 40 years after he wrote this paper in which he referred already to Information Based Rehabilitation! Whereas in the eighties of the last century a manual such as Disabled Village Children - written by David Werner when working in Mexico - was an important tool for field workers; nowadays we believe that the RehApp can more appropriately meet the needs of field workers who subsequently will be able to provide better services to disabled people and help them to be accepted and included!

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

As Enablement we are the developing agency rather than the implementor. We develop the RehApp together we a group of experts from Europe, Africa and Asia. Each chapter of the RehApp is discussed in and with small groups including the users (from various continents). It however is the INGOs that we work with who introduce the RehApp in their day-to-day work. We make sure that we stick to certain values namely: - Dignity - Self-esteem (of disabled people, their families and frontline fieldworkers) - Quality of life (to be enhanced for disabled people and their families/caretakers) - Empowerment - Simplicity (of the content and of the tools so that they can be used by all) - Scalability as too many people are without the much-needed rehabilitation information and services - Sustainability: this tool is developed to be regularly updated with up-to-date information in order to ensure that the tool remains valid

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

It is the field workers who come from the communities where we work through our international partners such as Light for the World in South Sudan or DAHW in Senegal but also though local NGOs such as MALC in Pakistan. These field workers know their communities and are well aware of those who move within or from community to community. Their commitment and passion is possibly the strongest asset one could think of. Without them, the work we are involved in would not be possible at all. These field workers work often for free or just for a very meagre income and in spite of this often work already for a long time in their communities. We wish to seek - where possible - other opportunities to make better use of the strengths of society or people in society and are negotiating to use in South Sudan Kenyan illustrators and people with IT skills.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

At this moment we work with a number of INGOs from various countries in the development of the RehApp; in testing the RehApp and in the training of fieldworkers (where needed). Examples are formed by the collaboration with the Liliane Foundation and their strategic partner organisations in Cameroon, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. We also work with Light for the World in Ethiopia and more recently have been working on proposals for collaborative work with Light for the World in Sudan, DAHW in Senegal, Humanity & Inclusion in Nepal, CARITAS Germany in Tajikistan, Cambodia and Vietnam. There is a keen interest among other INGOs who are member of the International Disability and Development Consortium.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Service: A new or enhanced service that creates value for end beneficiaries

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Pilot: We have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users. The feasibility of an innovation is tested in a small-scale and real world application (i.e. 3-15% of the target population)

Group or Organization Name

Enablement through research and development

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Enablement is specialised in Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) and Disability Inclusive Development (DID). Training, research and consultancy are at the heart of our work. We are a company that runs on a not-for-profit basis. Rather than measuring our success by financial profits, we prefer to measure the social impact of our actions for persons with disabilities in predominantly lower and middle-income countries. We envision empowered persons with disabilities, who participate in society, are accepted by others, and have access to services that improve their quality of life. Therefore, we don't take the existence of inclusive policies and legislations for granted, but realise these are of little or no use if they are not domesticated and enforced by civil society. Besides the core team of Enablement, we work with a number of associates. They form an international team of committed disability and rehabilitation professionals from various academic fields.

Website URL: and

Type of submitter

  • We are a Private Sector Corporation

Organization Headquarters: Country


Organization Headquarters: City / State

Alphen aan den Rijn


Join the conversation:

Photo of Uchenna Okafor

Dear Huib Cornielje! Superlative applauds to this idea. Yes; societal acceptance and economic independence are key in all reliable solution for disabled persons. Moreover, if I understood correctly, disabled persons will also have access to this App. If yes, how compatible is the App with popular speech accessibility Apps? You may agree with me that some disabled populations require additional accessibility features to make use of internet platforms.

Photo of Huib Cornielje

Dear Uchenna Okafor, Thanks for your comment; much appreciated and very important. We are working now already on a new more dynamic App and are exploring to ensure that the App meets all accessibility standards. There is however a possible limitation and that is the available funding but we are hopeful that this will not form a barrier. With kind regards

Photo of Huib Cornielje

Thanks for your encouragement. We have already prototypes but the current RehApp is static and we wish to move into a more dynamic App. I see NDEF works with rural vulnerable groups. Do you work with disabled children too? If so what services do you provide to them/their parents or caregivers?

Photo of NDEF Cameroon

Hi Huib Cornielje, welcome to the Challenge. We wish you success in your work!