For several years Sightsavers has been exploring ways to make the eye health projects and programmes they do be more inclusive of people who have disabilities. They have been able to learn several lessons from the first such project they completed. Working in Bhopal, India in 2016 and 2017, Sightsaver tried a number of different approaches with the urban eye health program they conducted there.
A recent learning review they undertook to capture and consolidate information they gleaned so far in preparation for the next group of inclusive projects they have planned yielded rich and illuminating ways to facilitate better ways to give more individuals and communities that are marginalized access to the eye health services they need. They were also able to ascertain the circumstances that are not conducive to those communities. It has helped Sightsavers to better understand how everyone involved is impacted by the process and the journey.
Some of the important lessons Sightsavers has learned include the need for partners at all organizational levels to have increased understanding, awareness and commitment. To make projects more inclusive, change attitudes and raise awareness about gender equity and disability inclusion training and sensitization is essential. Improving accessibility for sensory and physically impaired people to premises and health facilities significantly is possible using creative solutions if senior-level people agree to commit the necessary funds and sanction the work, even if it’s occasionally disruptive.