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Microsoft partners with World Bank to improve disability representation

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Microsoft announced this week a collaborative initiative with the World Bank to help bridge the disability divide through the use of digital technologies.

According to a report by the World Bank, many people with disabilities remain unidentified and thus absent from programmes, action plans and agendas.

This is primarily attributed to discrepancies in both the accessibility and usage of disability-disaggregated data, both across organisations and countries.

Estimates place the number of people with a disability at approximately one billion people, roughly 15 per cent of the global population.

This necessitates a better understanding and utilisation of population data to improve how disabled people are identified and thus improve the help and access to resources they require.

“The World Bank’s partnership with Microsoft aims to bring higher visibility to the development outcomes and living conditions of persons with disabilities,” World Bank Global Disability Advisor Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo said.

“This effort will ensure that more policymakers, development practitioners, civil society and academia use a disability lens and evidence to inform new financial investments, policy reforms and service delivery,” she added.

The collaboration between Microsoft and the World Bank, which also involves a partnership with Fordham University, entails improved access to demographics and statistics data to ensure disabled people are better represented, especially in low and middle-income nations.

“The goal of this effort is to develop a public-facing, online ‘disability data hub’ to offer information on persons with disabilities across populations, geographies and development indicators,” Microsoft said.

Among the core principles for the development of the hub are an alignment with the UN’s sustainable development goals, requiring countries to disaggregate data by disability by 2030, as well as adopting a holistic approach to collecting disability data.

Moreover, the company said that it will engage with the disabled community, with the resulting dialogue set to influence the design and creation of the hub and its related services.

“The new disability data hub aims to provide a clearer picture of disability prevalence, representation and inclusion globally,” Microsoft explained.

“This will help make it more possible than ever for governments, development practitioners, organisations of persons with disabilities, employers and civil society to understand the varying intersectional barriers for individuals with disabilities based on factors such as age, gender or socioeconomic background,” the company concluded.

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