UNHCR Innovation Service announces Digital Access and Inclusion of People with Disabilities Challenge

Deadline: Ongoing

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Innovation Service through its Digital Access, Inclusion and Participation Programme has announced a call for proposals that seeks to test initiatives and solutions to address some of the specific challenges faced by people with disabilities in displacement contexts.
Scope and Objectives

Interventions proposed might address some of the following priorities (but not limited to):
  • Tackling affordability roadblocks: persons with disabilities usually have lower income than their nondisabled peers; thus, in many cases, the cost of a device and connectivity services can be burdensome. Exploring initiatives with local service providers and phone manufacturers can provide opportunities to facilitate access to connectivity.
  • Accessible information and engagement mechanisms: To guarantee effective information-sharing among people of concern with disabilities, content has to be developed, presented and shared through modalities and channels preferred by this vulnerable group. Making vital protection content and participation methods accessible across all disability constituencies ensures an accountable humanitarian response.
  • Building digital skills: Many persons with disabilities, their families, and disability service providers, especially in low and middle income countries, are not aware of the range of accessible online tools available, and how these can be used. Ensuring that persons with disabilities can effectively make use of them is paramount to ensure a meaningful online engagement.
  • Enhancing livelihoods opportunities: The global digitalisation trend of the labour market can positively impact the access of refugees with disabilities to job opportunities. Connectivity can underpin the promotion of income generation activities online to achieve independent living, and social and economic inclusion for persons with disabilities.

The intervention might address one of the following barriers faced by people with disabilities:
  • Communication challenges: Communication barriers for refugees with disabilities vary from interacting with service providers and members of their community to receiving reliable information and reporting emergencies . This not only prevents them from accessing basic needs but also from being included in society on an equal basis with others.
  • Lack of digital literacy: The level of digital literacy of people with disabilities is generally low, and even when they have smartphones that have integrated assistive tech features such as text to speech (talk-back function), they often do not know how to set it up and use it. In most cases they do not use their phones independently, requiring assistance to read and send messages and to make calls, reducing their autonomy and increasing potential risks of abuse and diversion of information and resources such as mobile money.
  • Lack of opportunities to contribute: People with disabilities may feel empowered when they can contribute to the community or feel they have a leadership role . However, that is rarely the case. The combination of physical and information barriers, high levels of dependency, stigma and lack of accessible capacity building opportunities leads to a lack of income generating opportunities for this population. There is a lack of job opportunities, a lack of recognition of their skills and lack of accessible opportunities to develop their capacity. They express a sense of social responsibility and wish to support their family, to give back to society and to empower people with disabilities.
  • High level of dependency: People with disabilities have limited autonomy to navigate the place they live, and even their own homes. They are dependent on others to fulfill basic needs such as nutrition, hygiene and healthcare. They expressed a strong wish to be able to manage their affairs independently and safely, for instance their finances and consumption choices. Digital services can increase refugees self-reliance and inclusion.
Eligibility Criteria
  • Only UNHCR country operations are able to apply to the challenge and one submission is accepted per operation. This Expression of Interest should command the support of senior management within the operation.
  • Evaluation Criteria

For the Expression of Interests, awarding of funds will be based on the following criteria equally weighted:
  • Challenge: Framing of the Challenge and evidence / data to support it with a key focus on community engagement and feedback.
  • Solution: Articulation of the potential solution in context addressing key aspects covered in this background note, including an overview of potential partnerships and organisations who could support such an initiative. Specific attention will be given to proposed levels of community engagement / meaningful participation of persons with disabilities.
  • Impact: Potential Impact of the solution in not only in terms of the number of community members supported, but also how the intervention would affect them in their daily lives and build broader community resilience
  • Feasibility: Based on approach, administration, tentative budget a determination on how viable the project will be and its level of sustainability

For more information, visit

Post a comment