UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It seeks to build peace through international cooperation in Education, the Sciences and Culture. UNESCO's programmes contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals defined in Agenda 2030, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015.

UNESCO develops educational tools to help people live as global citizens free of hate and intolerance. UNESCO works so that each child and citizen has access to quality education. By promoting cultural heritage and the equal dignity of all cultures, UNESCO strengthens bonds among nations. UNESCO fosters scientific programmes and policies as platforms for development and cooperation. UNESCO stands up for freedom of expression, as a fundamental right and a key condition for democracy and development. Serving as a laboratory of ideas, UNESCO helps countries adopt international standards and manages programmes that foster the free flow of ideas and knowledge sharing.

Read more: https://en.unesco.org/


UNESCO, as one of the UN-system organizations, is committed to the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) and UNESCO Medium-Term Strategy for 2014-2021 (37 C/4) which sets out the strategic vision and programmatic framework for UNESCO’s action in education, science, culture, communication and information.

Targeted actions will be implemented in favour of socially marginalized groups including persons with disabilities with a special focus on girls and women, youth and other social groups such as indigenous peoples, speakers of lesser-used or languages in danger.

Within the framework of UNESCO’s Medium-Term Strategy 2021, the Organization will implement its commitments in the following manner:  

  1. Increasing UNESCO’s focus on disabilities and empowerment of persons with disabilities;
  2. Positioning UNESCO closer to the targeted communities including persons with disabilities, working in close cooperation with the UNESCO’s networks and UNESCO Field Offices, category 1 and 2 Institutes, centres and chairs established under the auspices of UNESCO;
  3. Strengthening UNESCO’s participation in the United Nations system processes related to disability issues such as the UN Interagency support group on the implementation of UNCRPD, UN Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD), the Global Action on Disability (GLAD) network, and other strategic frameworks and initiatives;
  4. Developing and strengthening UNESCO’s partnership with Member States, civil society organizations representing persons with disabilities, professional organizations, academia, and other public and private organizations working in the areas related to inclusion, accessibility, gender equality, capacity building, data collection and other human rights-based related aspects to empower persons with disabilities.
Theme: Other
Year: 2018

Stereotypes, attitudes and behaviours
All above-suggested categories (Policy, legislation and its implementation; Representation and Empowerment of persons with disabilities; Stereotypes and attitudes, behaviours; and data collection) are linked to the Organization’s commitments in the area of disabilities. 

A special attention will be placed on development of partnerships and collaborative work between national institutions, disabled peoples’ organizations and media actors to promote and facilitate reduction of stigma and discrimination. Capacities of actors to engage in a sustainable and constructive dialogue, and to conduct strategic awareness-raising campaigns will be enhanced.

Ongoing projects as a part of the UN Joint Partnership project on advancing the rights of women and girls with disabilities will help to fill in the knowledge gaps on the aspirations, concerns and priorities of women and girls with disabilities, as well as understanding existing harmful cultural norms and practices.

Knowledge produced will be used to further develop evidence-based initiatives seeking to promote practices which could “shift the perception” of societies towards persons with disabilities. The capacity building will include work with Justice and Sexual and Reproductive Health Service providers in mainstreaming gender-sensitive and disability-friendly approaches that incorporate the varied disability categories.

Timeframe and/or implementation plan
Within the framework of UNESCO’s Medium-Term Strategy 2021, the Organization will implement its commitments in the following manner:

  1. Production of evidence-based studies on beliefs and attitudes;
  2. Production of targeted campaigns and dissemination of key gender-sensitive messages in cooperation with non-governmental organizations representing persons with disabilities, policy and decision makers, officials, health and educational professionals and the media.
  3. Building capacities of network of journalists in reporting on issues concerning disabilities, with a special focus on women and girls with disabilities, as well as of local authorities to mainstream human rights-based approaches and disability considerations and assessment tools in their planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation policies and actions plans.
  4. Elaboration of national policy documents on mainstreaming a human right based perception of persons with disabilities.
  5. Collaboration with other UN-system organizations on the implementation of UN Joint Partnership projects, in particular in African countries.
Theme: Eliminate Stigma and Discrimination
Year: 2018

All above-listed categories will be linked to UNESCO commitments within the Medium-Term Strategy (2014-2021) framework and contribute to the implementation of UNCRPD. UNESCO as a UN leading agency in education, science, culture, communication and information will develop the capacities of Member States in particular ministries of education, national governmental organizations, technical and vocational education and training organizations (TVET), open and distance learning (ODL) providers, research and academic institutions in charge of education including primary, secondary, higher and lifelong learning, and other relevant public organizations to plan, manage, design, assess and implement disability inclusive education policies and strategies in order to achieve inclusive, equitable and equality education for all learners with disabilities. A special focus will be placed on the integration and exploitation of accessible information and communication technologies for the development of learning and training resources and strengthening existing infrastructure.

The Organization will build on its expertise to help Member States and relevant educational organizations to ensure that inclusive education is mainstreamed into the sector’s analysis, planning, implementation and assessment processes. UNESCO will continue supporting the development of accessible textbooks, learning and training materials, courses, providing guidelines for open and distance learning to improve accessibility for students with disabilities using inclusive technologies. Furthermore, the Organization will promote inclusive education through its standard-setting framework (development of Recommendation on Open Educational Resources planned in 2019) by integrating open solutions and standards in education for learners with disabilities; as well as courses prepared in collaboration with other UN-system organizations, and other public and private partners.

The special emphasis will be placed in education sector analysis and planning to be done through UNESCO Programme Sectors, Field Offices network and its category 1 Institutes such as the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP), the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) and others institutions under the auspices of UNESCO.

With its mandate to support educational policy, planning and management of Ministries of Education and other actors, IIEP will use its expertise to help Member States ensure that inclusive education is mainstreamed into sector analysis and planning. IIEP will also develop and deliver training courses on planning for inclusive education.

UNESCO, in cooperation with VSOand the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 is undertaking a Research Project on the training and motivation of pre-primary teachers for implementing inclusive and equitable teaching practices. 

The International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 (a global Alliance, hosted by UNESCO to address the “teacher Gap”) is establishing a thematic working group on inclusion and equity. The purpose of this working group is to encourage research, knowledge sharing on this issue and to support the development of teachers’ policies and programmes that are more inclusive.

The year 2019 commemorates the 25th anniversary of the UNESCO World Conference on Special Needs Education. In June 2019, UNESCO will host an International Forum on Inclusion and Equity in Education “Every learner matters” to take stock and review progress in policy and practice since the Salamanca Conference and to identify sectors and topics where progress is most needed in order to promote inclusion.  

Theme: Inclusive Education
Year: 2018

The following categories of commitments are related to UNESCO’s plans in the area of disabilities which are of cross-cutting nature and linked to the economic empowerment of persons with disabilities:

  1. Inclusive environment in the workplace. UNESCO will continue implementing its internal UNESCO Disability Policy as a disability friendly Organization by providing a reasonable accommodation of its staff with disabilities to perform their work on an equal conditions with others, and provide equal employment opportunities, workplace and other domains for persons with disabilities.
  2. Skills development for decent work will include capacity building of teachers in service and teachers in training, policy and decision makers working in education sector on inclusion, accessibility and other issues which would help both for persons with disabilities and those who provide training to access decent work. A special attention will be paid to the application of inclusive and accessible information and information technology.
  3. Universal Design for All will be integrated in the development of content, practices and policy including promotion of Universal Design for Learning in Open and Distance Learning institutions in order to provide more inclusive education, training and learning materials, and services.
  4. Reasonable accommodation in the workplace and training institutions will include integration of accessibility issues and raising awareness on the importance to reduce stigma and discrimination. A special attention will be paid to training of media professionals to provide accurate, objective and human rights-based reporting on disability issues.

Timeframe and/or implementation plan: 
All above-listed categories will be linked to UNESCO commitments within the Medium-Term Strategy (2014-2021) framework and contribution to the implementation of UNCRPD within the context of its core mandate in education, science, culture, information and communication. 

The work already initiated in the above-mentioned areas by UNESCO will create favourable conditions for economic empowerment of persons with disabilities. The working modalities will include policy, legislation and its implementation, capacity building, development of training materials and awareness raising through a collaborative work with other partners.

Theme: Routes to Economic Empowerment
Year: 2018

Policy and guidance
Within the existing framework, UNESCO will continue promoting universal access to information and knowledge through application of technological and scientific progress for empowerment of persons with disabilities.

Specific policy tools, such as a Model Policy for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in Education and Information Accessibility Guidelines for Preparation of Accessible Materials for educations designed by UNESCO in partnership with other organizations, will contribute to the promotion and mainstreaming of inclusive technological progress in other sectors.

A special attention will be paid to the integration, awareness raising and promotion of development of accessible and mainstream technologies to access information and knowledge.

Global Joint Partnership for Assistive Technology(ies) will be a new working modality.

Timeframe and/or implementation plan
Building on the UNESCO’s New Delhi Declaration on Access to Inclusive ICTs endorsed by the Member States in 2015, the above-mentioned categories will include a wide range of activities related not only to the policy formulation and guidance using existing resources and policy models, but also development of new programmes and resources, in particular for training and learning purposes, and joint partnerships with other organizations including those working in private sector.  

A special attention will be paid to the analysis and integration of research results in the evidence-based policy and tools development. 

UNESCO in cooperation with its Member States will promote digital empowerment of person with disabilities through established UNESCO/Emir Jaber Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah Prize for Digital Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities. The Prize is to recognize the outstanding contributions of individuals and organizations in promoting the inclusion; and enhancing the lives of persons with disabilities through the application of digital solutions, resources and technologies.

Theme: Harnessing Technology and Innovation
Year: 2018

As a part of implementation of the UNESCO Medium-Term Strategy (2014-2021), the Organization will continue to carry out research activities, including data collection and analysis within the core areas of its mandate.

UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) will collect data on education, science, culture, communication and information. A special attention will be paid to the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Agenda and related Goal on Education.

To find effective solutions to the gaps in disability data, UNESCO within existing project frameworks will promote inclusive, participatory, and inclusive approaches to gathering and managing the data in cooperation with the city governments.   

Timeframe and/or implementation plan
The data collection will be carried out with existing resources and as a part of ongoing work in the key subject areas. Disability will be integrated in the development of new indicators, statistical approaches and monitoring tools.

The production of surveys and qualitative studies on disability issues and cultural norms, linguistic diversity of sign languages and other aspects will be integrated in order to better understand stigma and discrimination and existing barriers faced by women and girls.

Already developed methodologies for participatory data gathering will be used to collect new data and engage citizens in the process of collecting fit-to-purpose data and transforming it into maps and other graphics to represent disability issues in cities.

Theme: Data Disaggregation
Year: 2018

The UNESCO Priority Gender Equality Action Plan 2014-2021 outlines the strategic vision and a practical implementation plan for gender mainstreaming and gender-specific programming across UNESCO's programmes and activities. This work will also target women and girls with disabilities.

Timeframe and/or implementation plan
Within the framework of the above-mentioned Action Plan, UNESCO will continue mainstreaming gender equality in its work and development targeted interventions adopting a gender-responsive approach to support women and girls with disabilities. This work will be also done through the production of accessible platforms and capacity building on human rights targeting women and girls.

Theme: Women and Girls with Disabilities
Year: 2018

UNESCO within the existing framework will address disability issues in humanitarian contexts working in close cooperation with other UN agencies and other public and civil society organizations

Theme: Conflict and Humanitarian Contexts
Year: 2018