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Filed under: Development 2.0 Human rights Social inclusion

Young blond girl in wheelchair greeting the audience at the end of her show

Christina Sulzhitskaya, the heroine of the film “Life is like a dance,” acts together with a team of modern pop dance “Extravaganza” with the song “Heart to Heart”.

People with disabilities in Belarus are getting more opportunities to have their voices heard.

As Belarus prepares to adopt the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, issues related to the rights of people with disabilities are moving up on the agendas of both Government decision makers and members of civil society.

What’s more, the rights of people with disabilities are likely to feature prominently in the post-2015 development agenda.

Recently conducted consultations on the future of global development in Belarus saw the broad participation of diverse groups and sectors, and we found that people with disabilities are strongly advocating for social inclusion and changing attitudes.

People with disabilities want to be seen as exactly that – people – rather than objects of pity or charity. And they want the same rights as anyone else.

One potential way forward was identified by people with disabilities themselves: Making greater use of new information and communication technologies.

With that, the idea to launch a platform for collecting micronarratives on disability was born.

When people make diary-style entries on their experiences related to areas outlined by the UN Convention, such as education, health, and social welfare, we get access to first-hand information, which can complement traditional social science research methods and give us a clearer picture of people’s experiences.

For UNDP and its partners, this will be like having thousands of ears listening to thousands of voices, supplying a vast amount of information relevant for all stages of the project and programme cycle, starting from identifying and defining a problem through to implementing a strategy and evaluating its effectiveness.

This new technology can also be extremely empowering for individuals who are often isolated from society. Regardless of disability, people across Belarus can now have a say in the policies that affect them, following in the spirit of “nothing about us without us.”

We have a long road ahead of us, but we’re excited to be taking our first steps and putting together our plan for prompting people with disabilities in Belarus to share their unique feedback through micronarratives – building on the work of others who have already used this strategy.

The methodology behind micronarratives prompts people to tell meaningful stories that they themselves interpret (so no “expert” opinion), and the stories are run through sophisticated software and charted and mapped – by topic, age, sex, location, sentiment and more.

We’re excited to try out this approach, identify trends, and find out about the perspectives of people with disabilities.

What other new approaches are you using to gather feedback from citizens?