Universal Design World Bank

Design for All: Implications for Bank Operations

World Bank 2008

The purpose of this paper is to inform World Bank task team leaders about the benefits of universal design and to recommend ways in which universal design can be integrated as a component in projects of the World Bank. It presents the applications of universal design particularly in infrastructure with the focus on transport, urban development, water and sanitation, education, health, and ICT sectors, as well as post-conflict and natural disaster situations. Specific factors in projects such as procurement and evaluation criteria are not addressed in this context.

There are compelling reasons for the World Bank to adopt universal design. First, the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which came into force in May 2008, has provisions for universal design. Article 2 of the CRPD defines universal design and Article 9 urges State Parties to enhance accessibility in physical environments. The convention includes a high proportion of developing countries and is expected to increase demand for Bank support for its implementation and for ensuring accessibility on Bank financed projects.

Secondly, universal design is essential for inclusive development, a core component of the World Bank’s mission for poverty reduction and the achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Inclusive development recognizes diversity and aims at involving everybody into the development process. Universal design accommodates physical and sensory diversity among people. It promotes social inclusion of particularly those who have been traditionally marginalized due to their functional limitations, by enhancing access to essential services and economic opportunities.