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Global Toolbox for an Inclusive Workplace

HI's toolbox will assist employers in creating work spaces, tools and work methods that are accessible for persons with disabilities.

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What problem does your idea solve?

Humanity & Inclusion already has effective advocacy tools to convince employers and entrepreneurs that employment of persons with disabilities is important in low and middle income contexts. However, after shifting these paradigms, employers and entrepreneurs need support to adapt the work environment to accommodate persons with disabilities. Very few organizations can provide techniques for adaptation in low-resource contexts. HI will capitalize on our expertise to address this knowledge gap.

Explain your idea

The global toolbox is a comprehensive resource to remove barriers for persons with disabilities facilitating their entry into a desired profession in low resource settings. The goal is to build the capacity of external non-experts (businesses, MFIs, governments, vocational training centers, entrepreneurs) interested in employing persons with disabilities on workplace accommodation in developing country contexts. The content of the toolbox allows end users to delve into specific adaptations broken down by sample work environments and disability type. The toolbox can be organized as a phone or web-based application. The user is presented with a wide selection of livelihood opportunities or trainings, contextualized to developing countries. The user selects the profession or training, and is brought to the next page: disability type. The user selects the type of disability – all disabilities will be included. The application then returns a tailor-made page offering all the information about how to adjust the tools, work methods and environment within the livelihood opportunity selected for the disability selected. This will not be prescriptive – HI believes persons with disabilities can enter any job, given the right preparation and accommodation. The user can combine these suggestions with local resources to create contextually-relevant accommodations. In addition, as the end users identify new solutions for reasonable accommodation, they can upload them in the application.

Who benefits?

HI will pilot this idea in Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Kenya. Within these countries, our partners include businesses, microfinance organizations, INGOs and vocational training centers, working with hundreds of persons with disabilities and their families living in poverty. These project contexts include rural and urban environments and informal, formal and in-camp economies. After the pilot, we hope to scale the toolbox across many other low- and middle-income economies.

How is your idea unique?

This will be the first comprehensive resource that provides techniques for reasonable accommodation targeting low- and middle-income countries. This toolbox is different because it goes beyond empathy-building campaigns that “change hearts and minds,” and actually teaches how to include persons with disabilities in the workplace, utilizing a comprehensive approach. It also encourages south-south collaboration, where low-cost solutions for reasonable accommodation are shared globally. For example, HI staff in Afghanistan are creating low-cost prosthetic arms with farming tools attached, so farmers can swap out prosthetics and continue to work. Using the toolbox, this idea could be adapted for victims of war in Syria, for example. HI's unique advantage is our on-the-ground experience implementing inclusive employment projects across four continents. This is not “reinventing the wheel” – it is instead about pooling global knowledge.

Tell us more about you

HI currently has field staff based in four continents, plus HQ level floating technical experts continuously refining and implementing our inclusive employment methodology. Employee backgrounds include livelihood technical experts, occupational therapists, physical therapists and psychologists who together complete task analyses and create workplace adaptations within our projects. For the OpenIDEO challenge, the HI technical support unit would lead coordination to make this idea a reality.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

We are now investigating whether it is in HI's capacity to build and maintain an application or web-based tool; if this medium does not work we are looking into formats such as a printed manual or online training course, among other ideas. HI welcomes OpenIDEO's input on this question. In addition, based on feedback, we are thinking about how to create a "living toolbox" that users can update regularly as they produce new innovations. Should content be reviewed prior to updating? How will we maintain the quality of the product? Finally, we are thinking about how this product can link project staff between countries and continents to further discussion, upload solutions, and encourage south-south collaboration

Where will your idea be implemented?

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Kenya
  • Nepal

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 non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

Idea Maturity

  • Prototyping: I have done some small tests with prospective users to continue developing my idea.

How has your idea changed based on feedback?

HI's collected feedback from stakeholders in 7 countries representing stakeholders working on urban, rural and refugee livelihoods with a variety of partners. Based on this feedback, there are three big developments in the idea. First, multiple stakeholders suggested similar formats to organize the content: using "logic trees" to narrow down content by job and disability, producing targeted, contextualized recommendations for workplace adaptation. Second, the most common recommendation for the medium was an application or web tool that can be used offline, which would update automatically when connected to internet. As HI staff are not software developers, we are currently exploring our ability to produce this and looking at alternatives. Third, there was widespread enthusiasm about the idea of a "living tool" - meaning that new ideas can be added. This could be as easy as filling out a predetermined form with an attached photo. A summary of the feedback is in the attachments above.

Who will implement this idea?

The development of this toolbox would be managed by HI's Technical Support Unit. This could be augmented with the hiring of an application developer. HI will pilot the toolbox in four of our pre-existing employment projects in Nepal, Afghanistan, Kenya and Bangladesh, all with a full-time team and livelihood partners who work solely on inclusive employment. This toolbox would be used in these projects as a resource for field staff and business, INGO, vocational training center and MFI partners.

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?

Participation is at the center of all decision making at HI. When confronting problems and making big decisions, whether in "the field" or at headquarters (HQ), HI strives to ensure that the voices and opinions of those affected will be recognized and considered. For example, if we are thinking about creating a new project or making a change in a current project, HI consults our project beneficiaries to ask how they feel the change would affect them. Similarly, at HQ, when we undergo large institutional changes, decisions are made taking into account employee feedback. In fact, the idea for this application occurred through a similar process - we consulted individuals ranging from directors in HQ to implementing staff and partners in the field, to ensure buy-in and consensus.

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

Amplify allowed HI to dream beyond traditional funding models, which are often prescriptive, determining what your intervention will be and where you will implement it. This challenge allowed our technical support unit, field teams and partners to work collaboratively across continents to generate a solution to increase livelihood opportunities for persons with disabilities. Importantly, this challenge allowed us to pivot based on feedback, fully contextualizing the product based on user needs.

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?

IMPACT: In five years, all HI livelihood programs and end users will use and contribute to the toolbox, enabling hundreds of thousands of persons with disabilities to access decent work opportunities in thirty to sixty low-and middle-income countries. QUESTION: how do we ensure the quality and authenticity of newly contributed workplace and task adaptations while simultaneously allowing current and potential users to update the toolbox with new innovations?

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: In five years, all HI livelihood programs and end users will use and contribute to the toolbox, enabling hundreds of thousands of persons with disabilities to access decent work opportunities in thirty to sixty low and middle income countries. QUESTION: how do we ensure the quality and authenticity of newly contributed workplace and task adaptations while simultaneously current and potential users to continuously update the toolbox with new innovations?

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

  • Less than 6 months

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

  • Over 50 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:

  • Above $1,000,000 USD

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

HI operates multiple websites in different languages based on our different country offices and corresponding areas of work. Our U.S. website can be found here: and our HI U.S. Facebook page is:


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Photo of Sanu Shrestha

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