Stories of Equity in Public Engagement:

Addressing Gaps through Participatory Data Collection

August 16, 2023

The Centre for Dialogue is collecting and highlighting stories of public engagement initiatives from around the world that are working intentionally to include diverse voices in decision-making processes by increasing accessibility and equity. Have a story to share? Contact Nicole Armos today!

According to the World Health Organization, 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability, many of whom experience systematic exclusion, including a lack of accessibility in physical and virtual environments, stigma and discrimination.

Since 2017, UNESCO and Kota Kita Foundation have been partnering with municipal governments in Indonesia to develop more robust data collection methods about the experiences of persons with disabilities—to facilitate more inclusive and accessible policies and urban development.

Data is critical to helping policymakers design disability-inclusive spaces but the right type of data—timely, reliable and disaggregated1—is often scarce.

UNESCO and Kota Kita’s approach begins with a scan of existing data on disability to identify gaps and tailor subsequent engagement strategies. For example, preliminary analysis of data in Surakarta (Solo City) revealed that there was no data on people with disabilities from three neighbourhoods, and available data from other areas lacked details about intersecting identities such as age or gender.

UNESCO and Kota Kita’s suite of participatory data collection processes directly engage people with disabilities and relevant stakeholders in order to reduce gaps in data. For instance, their 2018 engagement in Banjarmasin involved:

  • Door-to-door surveying, identifying 3,897 persons with disabilities (almost double the count from official government data)
  • Three focus group discussions
  • Targeted interviews with 17 stakeholders
  • Observational mapping and geographical analysis of city sites for barriers to accessibility

The process resulted in a greater understanding of the physical, social and financial barriers that persons with disabilities living in Banjarmasin experience, documented in a Disability-Inclusive City Profile.

The data collected will help to design, implement and evaluate disability-inclusive policies and facilities across schools, public health facilities, public buildings and pedestrian areas, and support advocacy efforts for inclusive cities. The project also helped strengthen relationships between city authorities and citizens living with disabilities, and helped create a spirit of collaboration and innovation between stakeholders

1 Disaggegated data refers to the separation of compiled information into smaller units to elucidate underlying trends and patterns. (Source: Digital Transformation Toolkit)

For more tips on proactive scoping to identify gaps and barriers, and discussion on the importance of disaggregating data, see p. 21 and 37 of our Guide to Equity in Public Engagement


If you are interested in working with us to convene transformative conversations or increase your organizational capacity to engage, our consulting services team would be happy to explore your needs today – we can design an engagement process that is right for you.

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