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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:


Join the conversation:

Photo of Sanu Shrestha

Very interesting and encouraging to all disabled community. We are the non-profit organization, Foundation for Sustainable Technologies (FoST) for developing solar and sustainable technologies to all the communities, no matter they are blind, handicapped or any intellectual disabilities, everybody can learn the skills for improving their livelihood. For more information, please visit or

Photo of Matthijs Nederveen

Hello Angela,

You have developed a very interesting challenge!
I would be interested to help you to develop and test your prototype.
LftW is running a programme on employment in Kenya (and other countries including Ethiopia, Rwanda, Cambodia). We are setting up social innovation labs around the same topic, also using a human centered design approach.
Would you be interested to explore the possibilities for collaboration?


Photo of Chelsea Takamine

Angela and Team - Congratulations again! Check out this blog post highlighting the winners of this Challenge:

Photo of carole null

Congratulations Angela! Looking forward to your presence in Kenya.

Photo of Nancy Wagi

Kudos!This is really interesting to use technology for disability inclusion. Please check out what RizikiSource  in Kenya is upto and see if there is possibility of learning and collaboration!

All the best!

Photo of Angela

Based on the storytelling webinar and emails with Scott Shigeoka, I am adding this exchange into the comments so it is captured during review. S=Scott's Question, A=Angela's answer.

S: I really like your second sentence. The first one is a bit wordy, and the second is clearer to me.
A: Thank you for your feedback! I adjusted the idea content in the final submission to reflect this.

S: When I see the word "toolbox" I think of a physical object — that could just be me!
A: That's super interesting and just proves how stuck I am in my world of jargon. In my world, my "toolbox" refers to all of the information and skills I have to accomplish a goal. For example, I could say "in order to successfully do my job, I have the following knowledge in my toolbox: knowledge about international development, project management, evaluation, reasonable accommodation, workplace adaptations, disability...etc.

S: Is there a certain region you focus in? Is your employment for a certain kind of disability or is it anyone?
A: Our goal after piloting the toolbox is to minimally use it across our current country presence. Please find our country presence here: We do not focus on one type of disability.

S: Is it important to you to say "environment, tools and work methods"?
A: Yes - many individuals think of workplace adaptations and only think of the built environment - doorway size, ramps, desk height, etc. However, barriers are not only found in the built environment. They are also found in the way people communicate at work (verbally, over email, in staff meetings, over the phone, across a field of corn, etc.), within the tools used at work (a tool could be anything from a laptop to a garden hoe) and within specific tasks or methods needed to do a job (e.g. to be a farmer, you need to be able to irrigate your land). We intentionally differentiate these within the submission because we want the resources in this toolbox to be comprehensive and go well beyond the built environment in order to ensure success.

S: I'm curious about how you distribute the toolbox
A: Initially we will distribute it in a pilot or testing phase, using our presently running projects and partners for this test. After the pilot across four countries is successful, our field staff will be the "ambassadors" for distribution and use. To give you perspective on our international network, we have between 3000-3500 staff globally, depending on the flare up of emergencies around the world.

S: Is there a specific kind of employment opportunity that you focus on?
A: We focus on any and all employment in low or middle income countries, in both development and emergency contexts. We do not believe that employment for persons with disabilities should be prescriptive or segregated. Many organizations create centers for persons with disabilities to work in, e.g. massage centers for persons who are blind or call centers for persons who are deaf, and the job opportunity is based on the perceived abilities of the individual rather than their career aspirations. Our projects work to empower individuals to enter the career of their choice, and correspondingly work to adjust the work environment, etc. to be accessible. This paradigm is at the center of the toolbox, and we will attempt to cover as many work environments as possible in this toolbox.

S:Does the toolbox have a name/brand?
A: Not yet - I would love help with this if we are funded!

S: When you say: "will create" it sounds less tangible to me, because it feels like it isn't real. But your idea is real! Could you possibly reframe to something like: "Handicap International's toolbox is..."
A: You're 100% correct - I tried to do this throughout the document. Thank you for the great tip!

S: I'm curious about Handicap International, who you are, and why you're best positioned to support with employability.
A: Handicap International (HI) works alongside people with disabilities and vulnerable populations, taking action and bearing witness in order to respond to their essential needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights. Founded in 1982 in the refugee camps on the Thai-Cambodian border, our work quickly expanded across borders. At present, HI works in 59 countries globally running between 300-400 projects annually. This includes 25 years of experience designing, implementing and evaluating inclusive livelihood programs.

HI currently runs 40 economic development projects in 30 countries. We are one of the oldest and only organizations in the world with global, cross-cultural expertise on how to employ persons with disabilities in low and middle income countries. Similarly, we are one of the only organizations globally that actually implements our inclusive employment projects (versus sub-contracting the work). Importantly, we implement almost all of our work in partnership with DPOs.

Photo of OpenIDEO

Angela don't forget to publish your idea so others can see the great work you are doing!

Photo of OpenIDEO

Hi Angela and Handicap International 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.

- Tell us more about the scope you envision for your toolbox! We would like to see more information on the types of content you want your toolbox to contain. For example, will it look at addressing barriers commonly faced by people with mental, intellectual or sensory impairments? Will it look beyond barriers associated with the built environment, to barriers (and opportunities) around information and communication technology, and organisational policies etc?

- You clearly articulate the needs of users -- great job! What are some other barriers that you foresee facing your users? Are there associated costs that would inhibit employers from incorporating these techniques or adopting the toolkit? Explore these journeys and tell us about it!

- Have you already conducted training sessions with external non-experts? How did it go? What were some things you tried and some lessons you learned? How did you get these external non-experts onboard with your program? Tell us about it!

In case you missed it, check out this Storytelling Toolkit for inspiration for crafting strong and compelling stories: 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

Looking forward to reading more!

Photo of Angela

Hi OpenIDEO ,

Thanks for your feedback! HI had a lot of fun going to the field and received feedback from stakeholders in Kenya, Afghanistan, Nepal, the Philippines, Bolivia and HI Headquarters. We look forward to incorporating this and your feedback into our idea prior to June 4th, but would also like to respond to your questions here.

Content and Scope (Q1): First I'll delve into the language in our original submission, in order to better articulate the intent and content of the toolbox, then touch on the organization of the content.

Task analysis breaks down the tasks needed to complete an activity at work into steps, identifying where a person with a disability may encounter barriers to accomplishing the task. This task analysis is used to propose task or workplace adaptations to ensure that the person can accomplish the task. These adaptations differ depend on your disability, and task analysis is used for all types of disability! Both task analysis and workplace adaptations are tools to ensure reasonable accommodation in the workplace.

Simplified Example: accessing a vocational training course. In general, the trainee needs to be able to reach the center, enter and circulate around the classroom, access the training materials and participate in the course. Let's use the example of a Deaf student. If the course is delivered verbally Deaf persons won't be able to access materials or participate. Based on this analysis, HI proposes different “adaptations." In this case, task adaptations could include a sign language interpreter, CART technology, pre or post distribution of written notes containing course content, using pictorial representation of training processes and use of white boards, paper or assistive technology to facilitate conversation and participation during class.

HI examines three main areas when adapting a task - the tool(s) used, the environment and the method. None of our projects solely focus on a subset of disability, and neither would this toolbox. While we would parse out types of disabilities within the content as different disabilities require different types of adaptations, we would attempt to make the disabilities covered as comprehensive as possible.

The feedback sessions were very helpful in organizing the content of this toolbox – I simply asked the field teams (who would pilot the toolbox with our preexisting non-expert partners) what would be most useful to them, and let them prototype their “dream resource.” Multiple field teams separately came up with the following: the toolbox would use a type of skip logic to help the user identify relevant work adaptations.

Imagine that you are the end user of this toolbox. You open it. You are first presented with a wide selection of livelihood opportunities or trainings. This “layer” of info. would include both “waged” employment opportunities and “self-employment” or entrepreneurial activities. The user selects the profession or training in the toolbox, and is brought to layer two.

Layer two of information would be type of disability. The end user selects the type of disability, and is brought to a page or link with all the information we have about how to adjust the tools, work methods and environment within the livelihood opportunity selected for the disability selected. To clarify, this will not be prescriptive and will offer solutions for all disabilities – we believe anyone with a disability can enter any job they desire, given the right preparation and workplace accommodation.

The result? A tailor-made page offering tips for completing task analysis and corresponding workplace adaptations, saving the end user lots of time sifting through books or the internet on a slow bandwidth connection. Maybe one solution is from a project in Nepal, one from Sierra Leone, another from the U.S. The end user can take these suggestions and the resources they have in their country to create solution most useful for them.

We are debating right now how to make this tool “a living tool," and thinking about how to “tag” the person who inputs the new solution so that employees can follow up with each other. For me personally, this “south-south information sharing” is the most exciting part of the tool. We are also thinking about the format for this tool – e.g. an app is easier to carry to ‘the field’ than a manual, but requires IT expertise for creation and upkeep, as well as access to technology and semi high speed internet.

In terms of addressing attitudes and organizational policies - in our larger projects with non-expert partners, according to our internal methodology, attitude and organizational policies are addressed prior to identifying workplace adaptations and coaching. It is a good idea to prompt users of the toolbox regarding these steps, to ensure that the non-expert has already undergone these organizational changes prior to implementing workplace accommodations. (Thanks for the idea!)

Photo of Angela

Barriers (Q. 2)

Since we primarily operate on a project basis, for the pilot and within the majority of our projects, we ensure that non-experts budget for workplace accommodations prior to finalizing contracts. When you factor in inclusion from the beginning and use universal design principles, reasonable accommodation can occur at minimal extra cost – international organizations estimate 1-5% of a project’s budget will be allocated toward reasonable accommodation. However, for organizations that have preexisting structures, adjustments can cost a bit more. In this toolkit we will try to remedy this by pulling innovative low resource solutions from preexisting projects with the intention of minimizing the cost of the intervention. For example, in Kakuma (a refugee camp in Kenya), where funding is extremely scarce, while it is difficult to tear down preexisting structures and rebuild them to do things such as create larger bathrooms with accessible toilets – you likely will not have the funding to rebuild a new structure - our teams are taking old “unusable” wheelchairs, fitting a toilet seat on top of them and adding in all terrain wheels to roll into narrow bathrooms over squat toilets. These can be used everywhere from the home to places of employment to vocational training centers, so that persons with disabilities have access to bathrooms everywhere. There are so many innovative ideas like this that occur at the field level that could be used globally – this is why I want to create this toolbox, to capture the low cost innovations that can benefit persons with disabilities globally.

Another barrier to use of this toolbox is that it may need to be used within a larger framework in order to make change. For example, many of our projects use the “twin track approach” meaning that we support both the employer (via HI’s inclusive livelihoods methodology, partially encompassed in this idea) as well as the employee/individual in livelihood projects. We recognize that a limitation of this tool is that it focuses on the employment stage and doesn’t highlight important prerequisites like access to education, rehabilitation and other services. We will continue to work with both the individual and the workplace within our overall project methodology and do not discount the need for individualized service provision and preparation, especially in low resource settings, but will use this toolbox as a resource guide specifically focusing on the workplace.

Besides cost, limitations within the twin track approach and potential use of internet/need for high bandwidth, the other area highlighted extensively by all staff was the need for the toolbox to be totally accessible for all persons with disabilities, especially as many of our staff are persons with disabilities. We will work to ensure this is not a barrier to accessing this toolkit!

Previous Experience (Q3)

Yes, we train non-experts (other NGOs, governments, private sector employers, microfinance institutions, etc.) throughout many of our employment projects, and are continuously refining our training methodology. Out of the 60 countries we operate in, we currently run about 40 livelihood projects in 30 countries. Whenever possible, HI prefers to use this “mainstreaming” model to ensure that persons with disabilities have access to all employment opportunities that persons without disabilities have, rather than creating separate, segregated livelihoods opportunities. All of the pilot countries were chosen because their livelihood programs current operate under a similar model.

Typically we get these non-experts “on board” through a combination of advocacy and use of data. Many non-experts simply lack exposure to the idea that persons with disabilities can work, and once initially exposed to a positive, successful example of inclusive livelihoods, are eager to obtain the tools necessary to incorporate persons with disabilities in their workplace or livelihood programs. After providing the tools, our staff usually stick around for awhile as coaches, to help overcome road blocks encountered on the journey toward inclusive livelihoods.

This toolbox will fill a gap we currently see within our overall training methodology. Our trainings give examples of "how" to do task adaptations and workplace accommodations. This toolbox goes beyond examples and provides a comprehensive resource allowing field teams and non-expert partners to implement workplace accommodations in a variety of low resource settings for a variety of disabilities! To the best of our knowledge, there is not a resource like this to date that captures best practices for reasonable accommodation in low and middle income countries. In addition to supporting non-experts throughout the "coaching" stage of training, this toolbox will help us sustainably capture knowledge that is often lost with staff turnover.

Thanks for your feedback - it was really helpful!

Photo of carole null

This is a great initiative Angela. What caught my immediate attention in your write up is “………by removing barriers for persons with disabilities to enter their desired profession.”
Yours is a call to action. As advocacy is building towards inclusion of PWD into the work force and social settings, ensuring the environment they work in is comfortable and safe is very important.
This if done in every sector, will allow PWD to participate in their choice careers as currently there are limitations on this forcing them to work where it is convenient but probably not preferred.

From your picture I see you have developed comfort for a farm worker which is my field of interest. Any other examples you can share or propose for the same target group? Majority of the Kenya population including PWD live in rural areas where agriculture is the main economic activity even for the able bodied due to job limitations.
My project on OpenIDEO is on including Persons with Albinism in eco farming under a cool microclimate e.g. agroforestry and mushroom grow house. You may look at my project proposal herein and we could collaborate as you roll out in Kenya.

Photo of Catherine

Interesting project and one I can relate to having just put a similar idea to the DPO I am working with in Indonesia. If successful would HI consider working with Persatuan Penjandang Disabilitas Indonesia (PPDI) Kota Padang to develop and test this project?

Photo of Angela

Hey Catherine, happy to meet you. Are you in contact with our teams in Indonesia? At HI we try to partner with DPOs as much as possible, and I would be happy to learn more about your DPO to identify potential synergies. Please note I'm traveling starting tomorrow so I might go offline for a week or two, but feel free to email me with more information (email below). Thanks!

Photo of Elaine Kubik

This is a PHENOMENAL idea! Can't wait to see it implemented. @DeletedUser 

Photo of Angela

Thank you for your kind words Elaine Kubik ! If you're interested in chatting further about it, feel free to email me at Have a great day!

Photo of Angela

Hi @Fadila Lagadien, apologies for my delay in response, I was traveling with limited access to internet. Your organization is interesting and your work seems well aligned with the idea above. It would be great to connect and learn more about what you do. Feel free to email me to continue the conversation: Also, I looked at your submission and thought it was great! Check out these similar U.S. based initiatives, perhaps they will be helpful in your design: 1) AXS Map, and 2) Thanks for reaching out, Fadila!

Photo of Fadila Lagadien

Hi Angela, can you please have a look at my idea and see if you can support it and or provide some feedback that I might be able to incorporate into t to make it more feasible?

Photo of Fadila Lagadien

Angela, very good idea. How will the initial toolbox be able to be transferred to other work areas you might not have covered? I am working on universal design and reasonable accommodation in SA. See Let's collaborate.