Building indicators for inclusive development II: elements of inclusive indicators

This article lays out the general elements of inclusive indicators and reasons for their creation. It builds upon Part I of „Building indicators for inclusive development“.

Elements of inclusive indicators

Inclusive indicators are situated between inclusion and international development. Additionally they have to meet the requirements for measuring effective projects. This makes it rather difficult to identify sharp indicators and to formulate them. Thus they may be endangered to slide into inaccuracy.

The challenge

Different normative and conceptual frameworks to formulate inclusive indicators:

  1. Normative demands: Inclusive indicators have to be in-line with the UN human rights treaties. For the context of disability and inclusion the main human rights treaty is the UN CRPD
  2. Conceptual demands: The conceptual frameworks of inclusive indicators are the social model and the twin track approach. Additionally inclusive indicators are embedded into the context of human rights based approaches and should respect these demands
  3. International agreements: As for all international development activities inclusive indicators should be in-line with the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action of the OECD. They are founded on five principles that should improve the effectiveness of development cooperation. They are accepted by the international community and became a norm to describe the relation between donors and recipients of aid. The five principles are Ownership, Alignment, Harmonisation, Results and Mutual accountability. Within the Paris Declaration indicators of progress have been defined by the OECD.

Different levels

Inclusion as a complex concept can be measured at different levels. All levels have to considered in the drafting and formulation process:

    Impact on the inclusive indicators

    Taking under consideration all of the above mentioned the drafting and formulation of inclusive indicators is complex. As indicators should be SMART inclusive indicators should also be precise and clear. This influences its appearance and way of description in three ways

    1. Inclusive indicators often come in a set of indicators for impact, outcome and output. Otherwise it is difficult to formulate them in a SMART way.
    2. Inclusive indicators should orientate themselves along the rights-based approach
    3. Inclusive indicators are relational to the program or projects. This means that the formulation of one indicator cannot cover all projects and programs

    Inclusive indicators should be formulated towards the background of some standards that have been agreed upon by international and national actors building on the UN CRPD. These standards should be linked to other poverty reduction strategies and international agreements.

    The following article will describe the formulation of inclusive indicators and provide some examples.

    So long…

Building indicators for inclusive development I: the background

The paradigm of inclusion is demanded by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities. Thus projects and activities should be in line with the the general principles (article 3) of the UN CRPD and its aims should be respected.

Which is easy, in theory.

Turing towards practice this becomes far more difficult. Projects for example face the challenge to translate the text of the UN CRPD into implementable activities. One major element in this process are project indicators that should be inclusive. But this turns out to be a problem as inclusion cannot just be measured easily. The indicators that can be found in many projects are not clearly formulated or still disability specific and, despite the good and inclusive intention, not inclusive.


Disability is a wide concept with various international, national and individual definitions. Article 1 of the UN CRPD defines disability as a interactive and relational concept between the person with impairment and society or social environment. Disability (here the red circle) happens at the interaction point:

If the individual with impairment is seen as the problem, this reaction is seen as a disablement, because the root causes of disability are not addressed. Root causes can be non-discrimination, lack of equality and others.
If the problems are seen at a social level, disability may not occur in its strongest form. In this case actors identify the root causes and address them in an inclusive way which can mitigate the level of disability.

Normative and conceptual frameworks

In order to start building indicators some preconditions should be defined that provide the pretext for inclusive indicators. In this context the normative standard and the conceptual frameworks of a RBA and the twin track approach are relevant to formulate inclusive indicators.

The normative standards: the UN CRPD

The normative standards are provided through the UN CRPD for the context of inclusion. Besides the general obligation for the main social, economic and cultural rights it calls for non-discrimination, equal opportunities, participation, inclusion and accountability. These should be at the heart of inclusive projects.
As a human rights convention in the context of international development its implementation should be guided by the principles of respect, protection and fulfilment of duty-bearers (the state) towards rights-holders (all citizens). States should do this through the provision of relevant legislation and the framework that provides the fulfilment of these rights.
Rights-holders have to be able to claim their rights. This can be achieved through empowerment.

Conceptual Framework No.1: the RBA

Implementation of human rights in development cooperation lead to the development of the so called rights-based-approach. A human rights-based approach is a conceptual framework for the process of human development and is based on international human rights standards and obligations established by international law. It aims at the promotion and protection of human rights and seeks to redress discriminatory practices and inequalities that impede development progress. The RBA identifies rights-holders and their entitlements and corresponding duty-bearers and their obligations, and works towards strengthening the capacities of rights-holders to make their claims and of duty-bearers to meet their obligations.

Conceptual Framework No. 2: the Twin Track Approach

For the specific context of disability a twin track approached has been demanded by several international organizations. The European Commission for example released a and guidance note on disability and development explaining the twin track approach (see page 12: „3. Pursue a twin track approach“). This approach should ensure that programs focus as well on disability specific support but also aim to support inclusive activities and mainstreams disability into general development.

The twin-track approach is often postulated as a central inclusive framework at program level. Its transfer to project level is rarely achieved because of a lack of tools to do so.

The look forward

These normative and conceptual framework provide all the elements to develop tools for the formulation of inclusive indicators, which will be described in the next article.
So long….

Bildung inklusiver Indikatoren für Beschäftigung

Dieser Beitrag ist aus pragmatischen Gründen im Rahmen einer Studie auf Englisch.

Creation of inclusive indicators for employment

The UN CRPD marks a major shift in international law for persons with disabilities. It promotes a rights-based approach and a social model approach for the inclusion of persons with disabilities. Still it stays at a rather abstract level and has to be translated into practical tools. This short essay tries to explain how to create indicators for the area of employment in the context of international cooperation.
One way to „translate“ the UN CRPD into indicators building on a rights based approach. Indicators are a way to describe certain characteristics in the social environment to make them measurable. In a certain way they define the characteristics of how it can be detected and measured.

Main objective of employment

The UN CRPD demands that persons with disabilities are included in all areas of social life. Employment is a major element in the participation and inclusion in social life. The UN CRPD demand that legal instruments and measures should have the main objectives of instruments and measures shall be to

  • enable and promote the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of social life and to help them to sustain a life in dignity and that (Article 3 of the UN CRPD)
  • Opportunities for employment should ideally be created in an open, accessible and inclusive labour market (Article 27 UN CRPD).

Practical indicators of vocational rehabilitation measures and legal instruments

Based on these objectives vocational rehabilitation measures and legal instruments promoting the professional inclusion of persons with disabilities should be:

  1. All persons have equal opportunities and are not discriminated against (Article 3 UN CRPD)
    Equality of opportunities and non-discrimination are basic human rights. Within the labour market this is often not yet achieved for persons with disabilities. Legal instruments and vocational rehabilitation measures shall therefore promote these principles and provide pathways for persons with disabilities.
    Sub-Indicators for this criterion can be existing legal frameworks, monitoring mechanisms or the promotion of measures for persons with disabilities.
  2. Empowering persons with disabilities to reach individual autonomy and independence (Article 3 UN CRPD)
    Stated in the Preamble of the UN CRPD individual autonomy and independence is of major importance. Within the context of the labour market this is a major challenge for them. Due to social factors and the interaction with individual impairments barriers are created hindering the individual autonomy. Legal instruments and measures therefore shall support the development of individual autonomy and independence to the biggest extent possible.
    Sub-Indicators for this criterion can be that individual needs of persons with disabilities are turned into achievable or measurable results within their social context supported through legal or policy frameworks as well as guidance for their implementation.
  3. Implementing a twin track approach
    Although not demanded by the UN CRPD the twin track approach has been adopted by different international organisations as a tool to achieve the inclusion of persons with disabilities. Taking into account the interaction between the individual and the social environment legal instruments and measures should effect both in a positive way. At individual level the person should obtain reasonable accommodation and support. At social level disability should be mainstreamed that all stakeholders are prepared to provide an environment that is barrier-free, inclusive and allows the participation of persons with disabilities. This can be best reached through an integrated approach that involves all stakeholders at community level concerned with the employment of persons with disabilities.
    A sub-indicator for this criterion that all stakeholders create integrated and coordinated meas-ures and activities.
  4. Operating efficiency
    A second indicator lying outside the UN CRPD can help to ensure the sustainability of vocational rehabilitation measures and legal instruments. They should respect operating efficiency. Otherwise they can be endangered due to the scarcity of resources in low-income countries.
    Sub-Indicators for this criterion can be the precautious use of resources to implement the instrument or measure, the benefit that employers can perceive or the prospected sustaining of livelihood of the person with disability.


The UN CRPD can be used to create indicators for measuring the inclusiveness of vocational rehabilitation measures. By doing this the UN CRPD can turn into a tool for designing measures, to support policy makers and to monitor the efficiency of these measures.

So long….