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THISAbility Ethiopia: Towards a Disability-Friendly Addis Ababa

First ever 'Accessibility Rating' Initiative in Ethiopia (and East Africa), jointly run by Professionals with & without Disabilities.

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
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What problem does your idea solve?

Addis Ababa, often dubbed the ‘Capital of Africa’ as it hosts the African Union Commission (AUC) Headquarters & various international & regional multilateral agencies, is currently one of the most disability-unfriendly cities in the continent. Despite presence of building-related laws, developers are not obligated to consider Universal Design approaches upon implementation of any/all investments intended for public use, whereas the number of service users with disabilities is indeed on the rise.

Explain your idea

Ethiopia has one of the lowest urbanization rates registered in Sub-Saharan Africa with a maximum urbanization rate of 20%; yet, it's now one of the fastest growing economies in the world. This economic boom was achieved predominantly through the country's vast growing construction industry. Almost forgotten in this dynamics, however, are the crucial themes of Universal Design, accessibility and inclusion. Whereas, records show that the number of service users with disabilities in the city is constantly increasing (an estimated 15-17% of Ethiopia’s population has one or another form of disability), which makes the proposed idea of Accessibility Rating timely and of major interest to developers and service providers across the board. Any development that disregards, intentionally or otherwise, an inclusive approach is geared towards iniquity and eventually failure. Our initiative therefore targets carrying out a disability-focused Accessibility Rating intervention amid the ongoing urbanization of Addis Ababa and generating comprehensive, field-tested, context-specific tools that create the relevant awareness to a wide spectrum of stakeholders to better tackle the issue while ensuring an inclusive future for all. Due to the Africa-wide expertise we have in our team on disability issues as well as architecture, the overarching goal in this unique project is not limited to Addis, but to further replicate it in similar disability-unfriendly cities of the Sub-Saharan Africa region.

Who benefits?

Primary beneficiaries are persons with various types of disabilities (PWDs). But a project of this sort would not only address the accessibility needs of PWDs but all residents of the Addis metropolitan area at large through making the city inclusive regardless of one’s disability status. Also a milestone project for sustainable & accessible tourism, thereby benefiting government, development partners and service providers alike by factually clarifying actual market value of embracing diversity.

How is your idea unique?

This idea is particularly unique and innovative in that the Addis Ababa City Administration (as several other cities in the continent) has never had and still does not have any plan in sight to undertake such an Accessibility Rating of services, facilities and buildings in the city. Moreover, the initiative serves as a pilot project and best practice for other cities while at the same time practically reinvigorating Accessible Tourism. The very inception, ideation, formulation and submission of this proposal was led by an Ethiopian disability expert who himself has a lived experience of disability as well as an outstanding track-record on disability rights studies and advocacy - a fact which makes the proposed project rooted in genuine understanding and empathy about the subject matter. The idea was further consolidated and, if approved, will be implemented collaboratively with a team of young Architects from the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture & Building Construction (EiABC).

Tell us more about you

Officially licensed in Addis since 2014, THISAbility Consulting® is a multidisciplinary disability-focused initiative co-founded by professional consultants with & without disabilities aimed at revamping participatory research. In just a few years of its existence, the Firm has successfully conducted projects of landmark importance such as, but not limited to, a Comprehensive Accessibility Auditing/Assessment of the African Union HQ in Addis and several other qualitative/quantitative studies.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

How do we structure this project in a bid to widen it to a larger scale? How can we make the initiative sustainable, instead of a time-bound, phasing out project? How do we make sure that the outcome of this project reaches all the right stakeholders at the right time? How should the idea impact the construction industry in Addis Ababa and other cities of Ethiopia as well as East Africa (to begin with)?

Where will your idea be implemented?

  • Ethiopia

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • I've worked in a sector related to my idea for more than a year.

Organizational Status

  • We are a registered for-profit company (including social enterprises).

Idea Maturity

  • Piloting: I have started to implement my solution as a whole with a first set of real users.

How has your idea changed based on feedback?

That there is surprisingly so much more need and interest for this initiative of #AccessibilityRating than we had ever anticipated. Hence, project needs to be launched on a consolidated and viable organizational, human (which it already has) and financial capacity to ensure its sustainability. Until #AccessibilityRating gets instilled in the mentality of builders, investors and policy makers, THISAbility Ethiopia® must continue to keep its ratings going as well as known to the wider public.

Who will implement this idea?

Initiator: Dagnachew ('Dag') Wakene, 35. Expert with a lived experience of disability and over 10 years of international, regional and national expertise in the field of inclusive development. Will invest 30% of full time required by project. Based in Addis Manager: Leulseged ('Leul') Tibebu, 27. An accomplished young Architect from EiABC and was involved in prototyping the project. Will invest 70% of time required for implementation. Based in Addis Supporting staff to be hired.

Using a human-centered design approach, you may uncover insights that lead to small or foundational changes to your organization’s existing strategy or processes in order to unlock the potential of your idea. How would your organization go about making such changes?

Our entire inception and concept of 'THISAbility' ​is rooted in the notion of Human-centered Design. Obviously therefore no decision is made vertically or on a 'top-down' basis at THISAbility Ethiopia®. A transparent, consultative, client-sensitive and dynamic engagement with our highly qualified youth-led team gets the work done. In short, unless we're all in it, none of us can do it. This of course does not mean that there won't be dissenting views amongst us; a team with no differing opinions is barely functional. We therefore actually cherish differences in thoughts, give precedence to dialogue and, if push comes to shove, consider voting as a last resort. That's how THISAbility Ethiopia®, in just three years of its existence, successfully undertook projects of remarkable significance.

What is it that most attracted you to Amplify instead of a more traditional funding model?

This, by far, is the most creative, interactive and iterative platform that we've ever come across in well over a decade of our experience in inclusive development funding approaches. For one, transformative ideas are open for everyone to take a look at. Regardless of whether an idea may or may not emerge among the winners on this platform, it may offer unexpected insights and solutions to many viewers in several parts of the world. It's OpenIDEO after all! EVERY idea here is already a winner.

What challenges do your end-users face? (1) What is the biggest challenge that your end-users face on a day-to-day, individual level? (2) What is the biggest systems-level challenge that affects your end-users?

Individual Challenge (also please refer to our User Experience Map): Going to school, work, social & recreational engagements, etc. for a resident with disability in Addis (the 'Diplomatic Capital' of Africa) is an inescapable daily struggle, beginning from inaccessible transport system, roads and infrastructure, all the way to inaccessible public/private buildings, services and facilities. An organized, PWD-led #AccessibilityRating intervention would at least be a major wake-up call to all relevant stakeholders, and at most, paves the way for an Inclusive Addis, thereby inspiring other cities of Sub-Saharan Africa to follow suit. Systemic: ✓Very little or no enforcement of existing laws/policies ✓Awareness deficiency in the bureaucracy & society; ✓PWDs not consulted in decisions.

Tell us about your vision for this project: (1) share one sentence about the impact you would like to see from this project in five years and (2) what is the biggest question you need to answer to get there?

IMPACT: By 2022, THISAbility envisions to develop & distribute comprehensive tools/apps (online & offline) incorporating accessibility guidelines, ratings, individual stories & best practices in 5 major local languages as well as English and French. #AccessibilityRating thus widely inculcated in the Ethiopian construction industry & service provision as a whole. QUESTION: How do we ensure continuity & sustainability of this monitoring scheme if/when project #AccessibilityRating phases out?

How long have you and your colleagues been working on this idea together?

  • More than 2 years

How many of your team’s paid, full-time staff are currently based in the location where the beneficiaries of your proposed idea live?

  • Under 5 paid, full-time staff

Is your organization registered in the country you intend to implement your idea in?

  • We are registered in all countries where we plan to implement.

My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:

  • Under $50,000 USD

If your team/idea/organization has a website, please share the URL below.

http://www.thisabilityethiopia.org (kindly note that this site is still under construction, but available for viewing)

61 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of BobAchgill
Team

Hello THISAbility Ethiopia,

Will the free His Hands Reader mother tongue literacy videos with local hand sign support help the disability rating of rural schools in Ethiopia?

Getting deaf children to schools for the Deaf in a rural society is problematic in a resource limited economy.

The community school for good reason becomes the central focus of culture in advancing countries so this is a prime place to focus on rating inclusion.
Why not extend your disability rating system to include ratings of inclusion in rural schools?

The His Hands Reader mother tongue literacy app(s) will help to increase inclusion for Deaf in Mainstream schools.

The M&E reports monitoring HHR literacy engagement will serve to help adjust your inclusion ratings of rural schools via Analytics by location and mother tongue.

Here is the HHR worldwide literacy engagement Analytics report...
https://datastudio.google.com/org//reporting/0B79iKFBBwqNpSkcwODhHQVdKMXM/page/YWT

The HHR app has a 1742 video hand sign dictionary subtitled in three languages: local mother tongue, local business language and English. Also, video reading primers with word by word hand sign assist. The app runs on the lowest cost smart phones in Ethiopia. Every home and school conveniently becomes an extension for MLE (Multi-lingual-education) education for disabled and their Hearing siblings which serves to foster inclusion.

Connect with me via LinkedIn at the link below. Volunteers have already added Ethiopian hand signs and Amharic. You can begin testing out the ability to extend reach to every rural school now.

Here is more ~~~

Imagine a time when every Hearing and Deaf child can learn to read from the smart phone in their village...hearing and seeing their mother tongue and hand sign on the app?

The time is now!

Do you know someone who would like to volunteer to add their mother tongue or hand signs to the free His Hands Reader literacy system?

The Www.HisHandsReader.org mother tongue literacy videos with hand sign assist opens a path for total inclusion of deaf children among hearing. As hearing children use the mother tongue literacy videos with hand sign assist they naturally learn the means to communicate with deaf playmates.

And don't over look that the Www.HisHandsReader.org mother tongue literacy videos help Hearing children in the Multi lingual Education classroom.

It takes only 30 hours to add your mother tongue. Here are the instructions to volunteer...
http://www.hishandsreader.org/add-my-language-odk-collect.html

Here is an example of the result of volunteers in Jordan who added their local business and mother tongue languages and local hand signs...
http://www.hishandsreader.org/1jo-jos-arb-ajp.html

Thanks!

Bob Achgill
BobAchgill@hotmail.com
https://www.linkedin.com/in/bob-achgill-122a609

Www.HisHandsReader.org
Helping Deaf and Hearing learn to read so they can read His Word

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Here is a little more detail...

Would you like to volunteer to add your hand signs or mother tongue to Www.HisHandsReader.org??

These are the ONLY qualifications needed to add your Mother Tongue language or hand signs to the Www.HisHandsReader.org :
1) Native speaker of your mother tongue or hand signs.
2) Read and write your mother tongue (not needed for adding hand signs)
3) Know English well enough to translate the 1742 basic Words to your MT or hand signs
4) Access to Android phone to use the HHR app to add your language. (1.5GB RAM, 3 GB free space)
5) total 30 hours to add your text with voice or video your hand signs.

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Hi THISAbility Ethiopia® Team! We’re excited to share with you feedback and questions from the Amplify team and an external set of experts. We encourage you to think about this feedback as you continue to improve and refine your idea. You are welcome to respond in the comments section and/or to incorporate feedback into the text of your idea. Your idea and all associated comments will all be reviewed during the final review process.

- This is a clearly well articulated and exciting idea to engage PWD, industry and government to address urbanisation issues with high potential for impact in Ethiopia and beyond - great job!
- Tell us more about the potential stakeholders involved with your project and clearly identify who these stakeholders are. How will you onboard members of the construction community, regulators, regulators, and PWDs into your process?
- Human-centered design is all about understanding the journey and experience of your user. What has the response of the private sector been, is there interest in incorporating accessibility principles in design of buildings/services? If not, where do you see traction for the idea coming from?
- Tell us more about your envisioned outcomes of your project. What change do you think will come from using the accessibility ratings, have you engaged with people in decision making positions about why they currently don't consider accessibility and what information needs they have? How will you get people to take notice of the ratings? Can you explain the link to Accessible Tourism further?

In case you missed it, check out this Storytelling Toolkit for inspiration for crafting strong and compelling stories: http://ideo.to/DXld5g Storytelling is an incredibly useful tool to articulate an idea and make it come to life for those reading it. Don’t forget - June 4 at 11:59PM PST is your last day to make changes to your idea on the OpenIDEO platform.

Have questions? Email us at amplify@ideo.org

Looking forward to reading more!

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

Hello Team Amplify/OpenIDEO,

Good morning from Addis! Many thanks for your very valid and supportive comments. We will get back to you shortly with evidence-based responses (as usual!) to each of the great points you raised.

Best,
Team THISAbility Ethiopia

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

Hi Team OpenIDEO,
Over the past several weeks, Team THISAbility Ethiopia® has been busy gathering feedback from all relevant stakeholders and beneficiaries of our proposed idea. This has been such an exciting, insightful, widely accepted and very practical journey since the commencement of the Amply challenge. Thank you, OpenIDEO! Having said that, we will first respond to your questions in this comment box, and then share some of the constructive thoughts obtained from key stakeholders through interviews carried out by our team by going to each stakeholder in person.

OpenIDEO Question:
1) Tell us more about the potential stakeholders involved with your project and clearly identify who these stakeholders are. How will you onboard members of the construction community, regulators, regulators, and PWDs into your process?

THISAbility Answer:
Principal stakeholders in this initiative will be, a) the Ministry of Urban Planning and Development, b) Federation of Ethiopian National Associations of Persons with Disabilities (FENAPD) which's a non-profit, non-governmental umbrella organization of seven national associations of persons with disabilities, c) the Ethiopian Investment Commission, d) Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism, e) pertinent experts of inclusive development (based in Ethiopia, East Africa and, preferably, involving interested international experts) who themselves also have a lived experience of disability, d) the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture and Building Construction (EiABC) whose students and professors had already successfully teamed up with THISAbility Ethiopia® in 2015 to conduct the first 'Accessibility Auditing' initiative of the African Union Commission (AUC) Headquarters complex here in Addis (kindly please see official Letter of Acknowledgment issued by the AUC attached to our initial submission on this platform). We have already carried out feasibility assessment of this idea by contacting each of the aforementioned stakeholders, all of whom have unanimously applauded the idea and pledged to work hand-in-hand with Team THISAbility in implementing the same. As elaborated in our submission, PWDs are the leaders and main implementers of this idea as THISAbility Ethiopia® is a multidisciplinary disability-focused initiative co-founded by professional consultants with & without disabilities. The Ministry of Urban Development and Investment Commission have both expressed strong interest in working closely with THISAbility Ethiopia® and seek periodic advise on #AccessibilityRating, including engaging the construction community and regulators, once the consulting firm launches this initiative. Representatives of the Ethiopian Ministry of Culture and Tourism are eagerly anticipating the official announcement of this project so that they would join Team THISAbility Ethiopia® in developing context-specific tools of #AccessibleTourism, as an integral component of Accessibility Rating. The Ethiopian Institute of Architecture and Building Construction (EiABC) - the premiere and oldest school of architecture in the country - is already fully onboard and, as mentioned above, has successfully partnered with THISAbility in recent past to conduct the very first 'Accessibility Auditing' initiative of the African Union Commission Headquarters complex in Addis, which is our prototype pilot project of #AccessibilityRating. All in all, every single potential stakeholder is aware of and looking forward to the implementation of this unique idea led by an inclusion-focused, grassroots-based and PWDs-owned consulting firm.

OpenIDEO Question:
2) Human-centered design is all about understanding the journey and experience of your user. What has the response of the private sector been, is there interest in incorporating accessibility principles in design of buildings/services? If not, where do you see traction for the idea coming from?

THISAbility Answer:
The entire inception of 'THISAbility Ethiopia' itself ​is rooted in the notion of Design Thinking. We do not have an iota of doubt that an informed grasp and application of design thinking, coupled with its core elements of empathy, optimism, embracing ambiguity, learning from failure, creative confidence and iteration, will make a visible difference at the end of the day in any well-articulated project. Accordingly, our assessment of the views of the private sector and their interest in incorporating accessibility principles in design of buildings/services indicates, in no ambiguous terms, that the existing interest is indeed vast. Ethiopia also has a Building Law (Proclamation No. 624/2009) that requires building facilities/services to be accessible to PWDs. The 'billion dollar question', in the opinion of the private sector, is therefore which specialized entity to consult with and, if need be, hire in order to apply universal design principles? THISAbility Ethiopia® is precisely the answer to that. Please see our User Experience Map.

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

OpenIDEO Question:
Tell us more about your envisioned outcomes of your project. What change do you think will come from using the accessibility ratings, have you engaged with people in decision making positions about why they currently don't consider accessibility and what information needs they have? How will you get people to take notice of the ratings? Can you explain the link to Accessible Tourism further?

THISAbility Answer:

Envisioned Outcomes
✓ that the notion of #AccessibilityRating will be widely inculcated in the Ethiopian construction industry and service provision as a whole;
✓ that "absence of a specialized entity to conduct #AccessibilityRating" will no longer be an excuse and/or a pretext for inaccessible services and facilities in Addis;
✓ that comprehensive tools and apps (online and offline) incorporating accessibility guidelines, ratings, individual stories and best practices will be developed and distributed by THISAbility Ethiopia®;
✓ that other cities and townships of Ethiopia will follow suit, in the pursuit of creating an inclusive nation;
✓ that this model will be replicated in major cities of East Africa (as well as other regions of the continent, as the case maybe) through the already existing solid working relationships between THISAbility Ethiopia® and the African disability movement.

Expected changes and Engagement of Decision Makers

The following reflections were gathered, verbatim, from major stakeholders in decision-making positions through feedback interviews carried out by Team THISAbility in the past two weeks:

1) Mr. Helawi Sewnet Beshah: Head of International Relations & Communications, Ethiopian Institute of Architecture and Building Construction (EiABC)

What did you value the most?
- The revelatory aspect of the prototype.

What got you excited?
- The possibility of justice being served as a result or this project.

What convinced you about the idea?
- That through such a small effort as rating we will be able to achieve a significant shift of hearts and minds that will make our collective environments inclusive and a better place for us all.

Suggestions?
- May be it needs to integrate a mechanism of channeling the ratings to the wider public.

What needs further investigation?
- The scalability of the project needs further investigation so that not only key institutions, but also different entities are eager to demand the service.


2) Mr. Misbah Mohammed: President, Ethiopian Association of the Physically Handicapped (ENAPH)

What did you value the most?
- Such an endeavor led by PWDs and actively involving grassroots associations of PWDs like us is the first of its kind. Although there were one or two initiatives somewhat similar to this by some NGOs in the country, they mostly failed and were not sustainable at all because they were not framed through design thinking and their sole agenda was nothing beyond soliciting donor funds.

What got you excited?
- The prospect of seeing a more accessible Addis Ababa and a much better understanding of inclusion by residents of Addis as a direct consequence of such a unique initiative of Accessibility Rating.

What convinced you about the idea?
- That it is initiated and led by a team with an outstanding lived experience of disability, proven qualifications in the field and a well-tested, acclaimed and successful prototype.

Suggestions and what needs further investigation?
- Noting that Accessibility Rating is a relatively new concept in this country, THISAbility Ethiopia® needs to make sure, in collaboration with pertinent stakeholders such as the Federal or Addis Ababa Investment Commission, that investors are provided with adequate awareness raising training on the topic. This would preempt the possibility of resistance or evasion by some members of the private sector upon implementation of this noble idea.

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

3) Mr. Getahun Negash: Head of Management Office, Ethiopian Investment Commission

What did you value the most?
- We honestly never thought of such an intervention so far. Yes, there are laws and policies that call for the accessibility of buildings, services and facilities. Enforcement however has been close to zero, except some scattered efforts here and there. The advent of an initiative solely focused on Accessibility Rating, led by THISAbility Ethiopia, will be a game changer.

What got you excited?
- That we may, if this project wins and gets launched in Addis, have for the first time ever a specialized consulting firm that we can go to whenever we need counsel and/or cooperation on ensuring that investments on services and facilities are cognizant of Universal Design/Inclusive Approaches.

What convinced you about the idea?
- That THISAbility's prototype project of 'Auditing' the accessibility of a giant organization such as the African Union Commission Headquarters in Addis Ababa has been not only successful, but outstanding. And that this initiative is led by experts of proven excellence and empathy in the field.

Suggestions and what needs further investigation?
- Rome wasn't built in a day. This is a project that needs to be launched on a strong and sustainable organizational, human (which it already has) and financial capacity to ensure its sustainability. Until Accessibility Rating gets instilled in the mentality of builders, investors and policy makers, THISAbility Ethiopia® must continue to exist and keep its ratings going as well as known to the wider public.

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

4) Mr. Sisay Teklu: Tourism Stakeholder Relations Directorate Director, Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism

What did you value the most?
- This is a clarion call to us as Ministry of Culture & Tourism. It is a globally emerging theme and in fact last year's World Tourism Day motto was "Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility." THISAbility Ethiopia's initiative of #AccessibilityRating could this not have come at a better time than this. We certainly needed an intervention of this sort. Thank you!

What got you excited?
- Its timing, being needs-driven, successfully tested prototype, clear leadership by local experts with disabilities, together with non-disabled professionals in the field. The Ethiopian tourism hospitality sector has never considered accessibility/inclusive tourism as an integral component, and consequently has been losing so much over the years as the number of tourists with various forms of disabilities is skyrocketing in Africa and worldwide.

What convinced you about the idea?
- That it is proposed and owned by a team that seems to know exactly what it is doing. Plus the points I mentioned in my previous answers above.

Suggestions and what needs further investigation?
- This will need a persistent, organized effort. On our part as the Federal Ministry of Culture & Tourism, we are very much looking forward to working with THISAbility Ethiopia® as soon as Project #AccessibilityRating gets on its feet. We will be committed to this for our own sake. However, we are just one of the multiple stakeholders, thus you need to devise ways of multi-sectorial engagement for the best possible impact of this landmark initiative.

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

5) Mr. Amha Berhe: Senior Advisor, Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MoLSA)

What did you value the most?
- The genuine sense of belongingness to the cause by the team that proposed this idea. THISAbility Ethiopia is a certified firm by our Ministry and has been making notable contributions in the past 2-3 years.

What got you excited?
- Although MoLSA is mandated by the Government of Ethiopia to address disability matters, and even if there exist some disability-focused NGOs, the emergence of social entrepreneurships such as THISAbility led by very capable, innovative young experts with a lived experience of disability will significantly complement our endeavors. #AccessibilityRating is for example something that never occurred to us.

What convinced you about the idea?
- Answered above. The team composition, determination, qualification, prospect of sustainability of the project. It practically advances the famous "Nothing About Us Without Us" dictum.

Suggestions and what needs further investigation?
- Keep MoLSA in the loop as this project progresses into action. We will do whatever is necessary to support this as it certainly is a model that can be emulated by cities and townships all over Ethiopia and Africa. It's a paradigm shift par excellence. Best of luck!

Photo of Yonas Alemayehu
Team

This looks promising! Best of luck!

Photo of Yibrah Mehari
Team

Indeed it does! well organized and put together.

Great job! THISAbility Ethiopia!

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

Thank you, Yibrah!

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

Thanks Yonas!

Photo of Habtamu Regassa
Team

Thank you THISAbility,

Accessibility Rating Initiative is going to inspire several communities.

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

Dear Habtamu,

In deed it will, we appreciate your support!

Photo of Aden Ahmed
Team

Hello,

Happy to see some concerned citizens on top of this matter!
Thank you! Keep up the great work!

Photo of Bitew Bikale
Team

Hi,

I also share the same feeling!

Thank you THISAbility!

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

Dear Aden,

Thank you for your support!
Yes, we should all take this matter into our hands and work together towards an inclusive future for all.

Photo of Abdi Mohammed
Team

Awesome initiative . All the best!

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

We thank you for your support!

Photo of Hermela Tilahun
Team

Great idea/progress guys, Looking forward to learn more!

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

Thank you, Hermela!

Photo of Girma Eshetu Yimer
Team

I loved the idea!! A ton of wishes for the team to turn this noble idea into reality in the east Africa :)

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

Dear Girma,

Thank you for your valued support! We appreciate it!

Photo of Dagmawi Kassahun
Team

Dear Colleagues,

Such a progressive idea, been following up on your updates, best of luck on the final review!

Photo of Sahilu Dadi
Team

Very happy to see some great innovative ideas to help PWDs, hope to see it in action very soon.

Photo of Rahawa Tsegaye Derese
Team

Dear Team,

Thank you!
Looking forward for such change.

Photo of Nebiyou Tolcha
Team

Dear Team,

Amazing stuff!
You have to make this happen in Addis and beyond.

Photo of Mahlet Abrha
Team

I'm really impressed with your work so far and best of luck for the implementation !!!

Photo of Fozia Endrias
Team

A well articulated idea - good luck with it. looking forward to learn more!

Photo of Abenet Getachew Kassa
Team

Great progress!
This will be the first of its kind in Addis Ababa!

Photo of Abel Hailemariam
Team

Love the idea. This will definitely be a game changer!

Photo of Abrhame Hailu
Team

Great concept THISAbility Ethiopia! Well articulated, Thank you!

Photo of Abebaw
Team

Dear ThisAbility Ethiopia,

A noble initiation. Count me in your cause for any support I can provide.

Photo of Bethelehem
Team

Dear Dagnachew,
I am really happy to see young Ethiopians pro-actively working in the disability area. As you well know the sector has many challenges and need patience as the Amharic saying ' Lekeberiw aredut' endayhon (translation- informing the death of the person to the one who went to his funeral).
There is a lot to be done in Addis to curve the disability accessibility. My advise would be to link with Ethiopian Center for Disability and Development to see what they have done and learn from their experience. The main problem in our country as you know is 'implementation'. It's really unfortunate to see your excellent work for AUC not materialized to date. The law enforcement is very week in the country and need big advocacy work. I am happy and willing to provide any support at my level whenever you need. I hope you will take into consideration all these issues and wish you good luck !

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

Thanks very much for the constructive feedback. Appreciated!
Our piloted project in collaboration with the African Union Commission HQ (thank you for bringing it up) is already getting into fruition, brick-by-brick. We know this as we frequently visit the AUC premises for various events and purposes, almost every month. The mere fact that they took the initiative to have the entire complex audited from a perspective of disability-friendliness, which was the first of its kind​, and hired a firm led by consultants with lived experience of disability, is in itself a commendable move, especially given the intricate bureaucracy and resistance to change a​t the Commission​. So don't worry about that; we promise to keep you updated about developments there. But as you rightly pointed out, we reckon that endeavors of a number of organizations claiming to work 'for' or 'on behalf of' the disability constituency here at home and elsewhere in Africa eventually remain futile owing to several factors. We won't go into listing those reasons here. One thing we do know for certain though is that a​n​ informed grasp and application of design thinking, coupled with its core elements of empathy, optimism, embracing ambiguity, learning from failure, creative confidence and iteration, will make a visible difference at the end of the day. Unlike some organizations, our involvement in this challenge as a joint bonafide team of experts with and without disabilities, is not geared towards a short-term catapulted interest of winning funds here and there. It's about leaving a lasting impact, big or small, on mediocre mindsets and systems of exclusion. ​We are after the 'elephant in the room', not the bunnies in the corridors. ​Thus,​ regardless​ of the outcome of this brilliant Amplify challenge​ (kudos to the creators of such an impeccable platform!), ​the journey towards ​our noble goal continues unhindered. Thanks again... ​keep up your good work, and most importantly, the positive attitude!

Photo of FANNIJO DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE
Team

thank you THISABILITY For your response

Photo of FANNIJO DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE
Team

one focal locus of my idea seems to be already on- going in your idea so collaborating with you will actualize the reality that inclusion possibilities are evident and also a platform to assist beginners

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

That's correct. Thank you, and looking forward to collaborating.

Photo of Fadila Lagadien
Team

Hi, this is another one of similar ideas here and again it shows how important it is around the world for disabled people to have access to facilitate inclusion. Since we have similar ideas and are on the same continent, I would like to work with you to share best practices. here is mt idea:
https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/disability-inclusion/ideas/disability-accessible-facilities-and-services
Also look at:
http://beaccessible.co.za/

Good luck....

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

Hi Fadila,

We're so excited to know about your excellent initiative. Your thought of collaboration is appreciated as well and is precisely in line with our medium and long-term vision of introducing our initiative throughout Sub Saharan Africa, beginning with East Africa, as you might've noticed from the details we pitched on this platform. We particularly envision working with major national and regional organizations of persons with disabilities in the continent, using the already existing strong affiliations we have in the African disability movement. I'm one of the two initiators of the project and served for 4 years until last year on the Board of the Africa Disability Alliance (which's based in Pretoria) representing youth with disabilities. I also did my MA studies in your country at Stellenbosch University, hence would certainly be glad to link up with a South Africa-based innovator in the disability sector such as yourself since I'm familiar with the context there. Good luck to you too... looking forward to exploring how we can effectively collaborate for an inclusive Africa.

Dag
Co-founder and Director, THISAbility Ethiopia®

Photo of Fadila Lagadien
Team

Sorry I did not meet you when you were here:-( However, I am sure we can work together on this or other projects. Let's keep talking.....

Photo of Natnael
Team

Hello,

Thank you for taking the initiative to this noble cause. Much gratitude! Will definitely look forward to engage and support.

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

Thank you, Natnael!

Photo of Seare Hailom
Team

Its really a great idea, and its true the city plans of addis is not suitable for disabled, I wish and hope your ideas come to plan and reality.

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

Dear Seare,

We thank you for your profound wish and support.

Team THISAbility Ethiopia®

Photo of seifemichael nigussie
Team

Great project, would like to follow-up on the outcomes.

Thanks,
Seifemichael

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

Thank you Sir, We appreciate your support!

Photo of MARU
Team

I applaud the initiative, very organized! I would like to know the organizational capacity that this project demands in terms of man power.

Thanks,
Maereg Addis

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

Dear Maereg,

Thank you. Creating organizational capacity in terms of human and financial resource is one of our biggest challenges to make this noble idea a reality. This is also why we have decided to submit our idea to OpenIDEO.

Wish us luck to succeed in the challenge which would bring about a fundamental paradigm shift, if and when implemented.

Thanks again,
Team THISAbility Ethiopia®

Photo of Same Gebru
Team

Very critical project for the city which is grown faster. Guiding and inforcing individual buildings to addopt the findings of this project will be a challenge. How could you try to implement in the area already built with out considering access to the disabled .

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

Dear Same,

Thanks for the question. Kindly please refer to responses we provided above which also answer your question.

Best,
Team THISAbility Ethiopia®

Photo of Trust Mutekwa
Team

Accessibility Rating Initiative is going to inspire many communities of inclusivity.  I am inspired and ready to keep reminding my neighbours about this. Thanks!

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

Great to hear that, and thank you!

Photo of LEUL ST
Team

Well conceived, much needed in the continent if not Addis Ababa!

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

Thank you, Sir!

Photo of samrawit Tibebu
Team

It is indeed an Issue that is timly and of a Great advantage to PWD. I would like to know if the pilot project is specific, My concern is with an idea as big as this, it is going to require a wide ragnge of efforts and I think having a Specific pilot project will be much more successful, start with a public center then go from there.

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

Dear Samrawit,

Many thanks for your comment and question. Specificity is indeed of paramount importance for a realistic planning and success of such a project. Our team too had thought about this very issue in great depth before submitting the idea to OpenIDEO. Based on the expertise and already field-tested experience we have in the field (kindly see details in the official post above), we reached a justified conclusion that initiating the project in Addis is actually not only specific enough, but attainable, timely and reasonable as well. Bottom line in the idea is to launch a platform that offers Accessibility Rating to public and private facilities/services in the city and establish a standard practice (which currently does not exist in Ethiopia) whereby facilities/services, at least those under construction at present or to be constructed in the future, are built through the lens of Inclusive Design, i.e., Universal Design, which is cost-efficient, sustainable and gainful in due course. We have no doubt that other cities of Ethiopia and East Africa would follow suit shortly after they see this initiative in action.

Best regards,
Team THISAbility Ethiopia®

Photo of Ashley Tillman
Team

Thank you for sharing your idea on the platform!

Can you share a few details around the stakeholders that you would want involved in this project for the best possible outcome?

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

Dear Ashley,

Thanks for your valid question! Principal stakeholders in this initiative would be, a) the Ministry of Urban Planning and Development, b) Federation of Ethiopian National Associations of Persons with Disabilities (FENAPD) which's a non-profit, non-governmental umbrella organization of seven national associations of persons with disabilities, c) pertinent experts of inclusive development (based in Ethiopia, East Africa and, preferably, involving interested international experts) who themselves also have a lived experience of disability, d) the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture and Building Construction (EiABC) whose students and professors had already successfully teamed up with THISAbility Ethiopia® in 2015 to conduct the very first 'Accessibility Auditing' initiative of the African Union Commission Headquarters complex here in Addis.

Hope this answers your question. Please let us know if you have any follow-up queries.

Best,
Team THISAbility Ethiopia®

Photo of Julia Mauser
Team

great project, and highly needed in the city of AA.
I wish you good luck for this project and would be happy to follow up.
Julia

Photo of THISAbility Ethiopia®
Team

Thank you!