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Inclusive Budgets

Money can be a big barrier that often stops people with intellectual disabilities from getting involved in project work.

An inclusive organisation thinks about the costs that will need to be covered to make sure everyone can participate in its work. 

Self-advocates told us:

  • Organisers for meetings and events pick the cheapest choice, but sometimes this means it is in an inaccessible place

  • Sometimes people are asked to take part without a support person because the organisation did not plan to spend money on extra people. 

  • Organisations forget to pay expenses to help people travel to events, which means people with intellectual disabilities sometimes can't go.


Extra time may be needed to help people with intellectual disabilities understand a role or take part in an activity. 


For example, a training activity may need to be split into three sessions instead of one, so that people can learn in smaller chunks and have time to reflect and think in between sessions

Allowing more time to make sure that people can fully take part may mean you need to budget for additional staff hours.


Up front expenses such as travel and internet data costs are a barrier for people with intellectual disabilities.


A few things to think about are:

  • Transport costs should be paid for if you need people with intellectual disabilities to come together for a training or a meeting. 

  • Public transport is not always accessible, so organisations will need to help people get there. For example, reimbursing the cost of a taxi.

  • Provide meals if a meeting or event is over a few hours long. 

  • Data and technology costs should be covered if you expect people to join a meeting or work for you online. 

  • If people have to give up a days work in order to take part in your project activity, think about how they can be compensated. Many people with intellectual disabilities and their families earn money through informal jobs. 

  • Many people with intellectual disabilities do not have bank accounts. Think about your organisational policies and how you pay expenses. For example, paying people in advance through mobile money apps or in cash can work well.

  • Organisations representing people with intellectual disabilities (OPDs) are not often well funded, and will not have a lot of spare funding available. This means that they will likely need expenses paid in advance if they are organising events on your behalf. 


Self-advocates should be paid for the knowledge and skills that they bring to a project. 


Many people with intellectual disabilities are used to being excluded, so may be happy to take part as a volunteer.


However, to be an organisation that role models inclusion you should pay a person with an intellectual disability if they are doing any sort of work as part of your project.  For example: 

  • Giving advice on creating accessible information

  • Leading awareness training about intellectual disabilities 

  • Building networks in communities on your behalf

If you are bringing on an individual person with an intellectual disability to do this work they should be paid as a consultant. If a person with an intellectual disability who works for an OPD is being an advisor for your project as part of their job, their OPD should be compensated for their time.


Support people help a person with an intellectual disability to be part of an activity.


You should budget for extra seats, meals, and transport for support people.

In some countries people have access to support people for free, but in others people need to pay a supporter to attend a meeting or activity with them. Consult with an organization representing people with intellectual disabilities in your country to see if you also need to be budgeting for a support person's time.

For events where it costs money for a participant to register or attend, support people should have free entry because they are a form of reasonable accommodation, not an attendee.


Budget for making project resources accessible. 

Most project information or resources  are not accessible. For example, training resources are not usually in easy language. They also do not usually have trainers who understand how to be inclusive. 


Getting help from an organisation of people with intellectual disabilities, like a self-advocacy organisation to make the materials more accessible and inclusive should be budgeted for. 


This is especially true if you are changing something that  was not originally designed to be inclusive.

Pay individuals with intellectual disabilities as consultants to advise on making training inclusive, pay facilitators with intellectual disabilities, and compensate OPDs for their time when they advise on accessibility.


Using your existing budgets. By thinking about things in a new way and understanding the costs of accessibility you may be able to see how existing funding can be used to support your work becoming more inclusive.

For example, if you already have a communications budget. many of the costs for accessible materials may already be covered. For example:

  • a budget for a report already includes money for design - the report can be written in plain language, and if the designer was instructed to create accessible illustrations then the final product can be accessible for all

  • an accessible video does not cost more than an inaccessible video, it may just need to be at a slower pace, not too long, making sure the words are in easy to understand language, and adding in captions.


Staff who are working with people with intellectual disabilities will likely need awareness training to help them understand inclusion and accessibility.


These trainings should always be based on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the CRPD), and should be led by trainers who have an intellectual disability.


Self-advocacy groups or organisations  representing people with intellectual disabilities and their families often have training prepared that they can deliver, and this training should be paid for as part of project budgets.


Think about budgets for other reasonable accommodations. 


Extra time and support people should always be considered but there may be other costs depending on the group of people with intellectual disabilities you are working with. 

For example:

  • Some people with intellectual disabilities need more than one support person

  • Accessible meeting venues which work for wheelchair users may cost more

  • Translation and interpretation to other languages may be needed to include people from different backgrounds 

  • Technology services like captioning may be needed 


The best way to understand these extra reasonable accommodation costs is to plan with organisations of people with intellectual disabilities. 

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