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Planning projects


​Before the project starts, think about what stops people with intellectual disabilities from taking part in your projects. 


There are many barriers that people with intellectual disabilities face in taking part in project work such as: 

  • inaccessible project information

  • money for transport

  • access to technology

  • exclusion and discrimination in the community


​People with an intellectual disability can be a harder group to reach and engage than other groups of people. 


This is why you need to think about the challenges before you start planning.


Check your planning tools.

Before your organisation starts to plan the new project, think about the tools that you use for projects. Tools are things like budgets, work plans, and theories of change.

If the plans and information about the project use complicated language or are difficult to use, people with intellectual disabilities from the organisations you are working with will not be able to participate in project decision-making and design.

Avoid complicated tools where possible - for example, a short narrative to explain what activities the project will do and when is easier for everyone to use and understand than a complicated implementation plan spreadsheet.

Ask people with intellectual disabilities for help making new and more accessible tools. These will be easier for everyone in your organisation to use in the future.


Create standards for your project.


Running a project that is accessible for people with intellectual disabilities will be a new way of working for lots of people.


Before you plan the project, make sure that everyone working on the project has the same idea of what it means for a project to be inclusive. This is especially important for projects that work with many partners in different countries. 

Some of the standards everyone should agree on can include:

  • Deciding together on the values of the project (try lining them up with the key principles for Listen Include Respect)

  • Being familiar with the Listen Include Respect guidelines and how to use them

  • Using the same definition of “inclusion” and “participation”

  • Being committed to accessibility. This means all partners agree to use accessible language in project planning and create accessible project resources (such as reports and training content) 

  • Agreeing to make sure that project deadlines are fair for people with intellectual disabilities. For example, this may mean that the planning stage may take longer so that people with intellectual disabilities are included.  

  • Ready to include people with intellectual disabilities and their families in all parts of the project


Involve people with intellectual disabilities  in design.


It is easier to create inclusive projects from the start than to try to make things inclusive later. 


Without people with intellectual disabilities themselves, it will be difficult to design a project plan that will be inclusive. 


It is much easier to talk about barriers and plan for them from the start than to have to go back and try to make a project inclusive later on.


Plan your time and budgets well. 


Remember people with an intellectual disability may need different support, time, and resources. 


Working with people with intellectual disabilities in the planning of your project will help you remember this.


Train project partners. It is a good idea to work with self-advocates to do awareness training about inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities at the start of your project.


You can use the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to help create your training.  


For projects with many partners, all organisations at all levels of the project must understand about inclusion, participation and accessibility. 


This is also true for organisations who join the project later or might work in just one community. 


Include people with intellectual disabilities in project management. 

Having team members who have intellectual disabilities will help keep the project accessible and inclusive all the way through.

This means project meetings should be run in line with the inclusive meeting guidelines.


Use accessible language in all planning, meetings and information about your project. 

Project management teams should use simple language when talking about the project. 

At a minimum, newsletters and other external and external communications about the project should be in plain language.


This will help people with intellectual disabilities find information about your project.


It will also make sure your team members with intellectual disabilities can take part in discussions.


Check your ways of working.


Projects may use activity plans or training that worked in past projects.


If you are using training or activities that were not designed for an inclusive project, work with people with intellectual disabilities to get help making the materials inclusive before using them in your project.​

Remember that it is much easier to make inclusive materials from scratch than it is to try and adapt materials - designing new trainings and materials for the inclusive project might be faster!


Include people with intellectual disabilities when planning how to monitor and evaluate the project.

Including self-advocates when you plan how you will track and check your project will make sure evaluation tools are more accessible for everyone.​


Useful resources

An easy read document

Accessible Implementation Plan Template



Advocacy Plan Template 

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