Sightsavers is an NGO that treats and prevents avoidable blindness mostly to those living in developing countries. From 2016 to 2017, Sightsavers has been trying various approaches of providing eye care to the citizens in the poor areas in Bhopal, India. This organization recently conducted a review to consolidate some of their studies in order to formulate their next round of inclusive programs that they plan to undertake.
The initial project enabled Sightsavers to collect ample data on how they can provide easy access to eye care services for poor communities and individuals. Their studies also showed them the circumstances wherein inclusion can be improved and the situations in which improvement is not possible. This led them to understand the process and the journey better for all those who are involved.
These Are Some Of The Things Sightsavers Learned
1. In order to activate a program or a project, it is a primary requirement to increase the understanding, the commitment and the awareness to inclusion on all those involved and in all levels of the organization. This will provide the sense of purpose and the reason for the modifications that are required so that inclusion can be mainstreamed into ongoing projects. To ensure that projects can become more inclusive, sensitization and training should be considered as important parts to raising awareness and changing attitudes regarding gender equity and disability inclusion.
2. In order to be aware and understand inclusion issues, remove stigma and break down stereotypes, Sightsavers must recognize that it is a highly influencing factor to involve and assign leadership roles to people who are disabled. The disabled should play important roles in the design and implementation of inclusive development such as leading audits in accessibility, conducting training in sensitization, and so forth.
3. Simple interventions and uncomplicated measures in partner hospitals have the potential of significantly improving health facilities accessibility for those who are sensory and physically impaired. However, it is unwise to assume that the process will just be straightforward. Innovative solutions may need to be formulated to go around existing obstacles in infrastructures and buildings. There is a need for agreement on the senior level to set up budgets and impose sanctions on certain disruptive work.
4. Unique development and learning opportunities for the staff of Sightsavers not available in traditional outreach programs is possible by partnering with marginalized groups. If marginalized groups are encouraged to help implement eye care programs, Sightsavers staff will be able to develop creative, sensitive and adaptive systems of implementing eye screening. In addition, the ability to do inclusive work can be improved by creating a broader network of stakeholders and outreach programs. This will also open new doors for collaborations and partnerships with various implementers which will then widen the opportunities for inclusive development.
5. Sightsavers also realized that tenacity, time and leadership are essential in inclusive projects since change is usually not easy to implement. It is important to build momentum to have the right people that are committed to support and inspire all those involved in the project who want greater inclusion for everybody.