Disabled in BangladeshDue to the combination of widespread poverty and overpopulation, life can be especially difficult for the disabled in Bangladesh. The Blind Education and Rehabilitation Development Organization (Berdo) started its journey on July 17, 1991. The objective of Berdo is to rehabilitate people with disabilities through “income generation, education, training and treatment facilities.” Through this process, the organization enables the blind and disabled to succeed and live life with relative normality.

Job Placement

A common issue among the disabled is getting secure employment. The job-generating project aims to aid the disabled in finding suitable employment. An important aspect of this will be communicating with prospective employers in order to best accommodate the needs of the disabled. This program is funded by the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC). The program has produced in excess of 115 jobs for people with disabilities, as of data from 2008.

Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR)

Community-based rehabilitation for the disabled is provided through the following methods:

  • Community-based counseling with other disabled people.

  • Training in mobility and skills needed for daily living.

  • Facilitating access to necessary loans.

  • Improving disability awareness.

  • Local self-help groups, parents groups and Disability Persons Organizations (DPOs).

  • Facilitating enrollment in schools for the disabled.

Braille Library

Access to braille literature is essential for the blind to obtain new information. A library with audiobooks, CDs and braille books is located in Bangladesh. Five hundred braille books and 300 audiobooks are currently available. The library also contains a recording studio for recording audiobooks.

The School of Information and Technology for the Visually Impairment (SITVI)

The School of Information and Technology for the Visually Impairment (SITVI) is a program to teach essential computer and internet skills to the visually impaired. Relief International Schools online provided the computers needed for this program. This program currently has four computers but will likely expand in the future.

Promotion of Human Rights

The Promotion of Human Rights of Persons with Disability in Bangladesh (PHRPBD) is a program that aims to expand and protect the rights of the disabled community. This program works alongside the Center for Disability in Development (CDD). These rights are addressed through several small meetings of female Persons with Disabilities (PWD):

  • Distribution of necessary assistive devices.

  • Helping people with disabilities obtain disability allowances.

  • Assisting children with disabilities with admission into schools.

  • Referral services and regular check-ups


Berdo has opened centers in Dhaka and Madaripur. Within these centers are schools and hostels for the blind to access. Services provided by these centers include:

  • Foodservice

  • Lodging

  • Medical check-ups

  • Counseling Support

  • Education

  • Sports

  • Cultural Activities

Japan provided Berdo with a grant of $87,350. With this fund, Berdo was able to obtain and utilize a braille press. A braille press is essential for the process of making texts that can be accessed by the blind. Specifically, the organization will this press to make texts for the Berdo Blind School, library members and other blind people within Bangladesh. This could enhance the self-reliance of the visually impaired as well as promote adequate education.

While the current scope of Berdo is somewhat small compared to the population, it is providing essential services for the disabled. These services should continue to be expanded upon in order to give equal opportunities and allow the disabled to achieve more stability and success.

– Max Cole
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare for Disabled PopulationsWorldwide, estimates have determined that more than 1 billion individuals live with some form of disability. In developing countries, access to healthcare is difficult enough with rural areas being far from main health centers and low socioeconomic status preventing optimal diagnosis and treatment. For disabled populations, low mobility leads to transportation difficulty, creating an additional barrier that compromises health and access to the nearest healthcare providers. Established in 1998, the Swinfen Charitable Trust (SCT) is a United Kingdom-based nonprofit organization that focuses on providing healthcare for disabled patients in developing countries through increased access to telehealth.

Disability as a Public Health Issue

Although 15% of the world lives with a form of disability, every person experiences varying limitations and healthcare needs. Article 25 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) states that those living with disabilities must receive the highest former of care without discrimination. Despite some countries upholding Article 25, many developing countries cannot provide the proper care for disabled individuals.

Beyond discrimination experienced in the health sector, individuals with disabilities face various barriers to healthcare. To begin, they typically encounter prohibitive costs for health services and transportation since a disability can create the need for a specially adapted vehicle in order to travel to the nearest healthcare professional. Estimates have stated that more than half of people experiencing a disability are unable to cover the costs they incur in healthcare, compared to approximately a third of people for those who are able-bodied. Also, physical barriers prevent disabled people from being able to access certain buildings and essential medical appointments. Inaccessible medical equipment, poor signage and inadequate bathroom facilities all comprise potential barriers. For example, medical professionals can often deny disabled women breast and cervical screening since the tables are not adjustable to one’s height and mammography equipment cannot accommodate women who are unable to stand.

The Swinfen Charitable Trust’s Mission

The Swinfen Charitable Trust (SCT) focuses on the disabled population of the developing world. SCT creates telemedicine links between healthcare centers in the developing world and medical professionals globally, who provide complementary diagnosis and treatment services. SCT represents the longest operating telemedicine nonprofit in existence. To date, there are 366 referring hospitals and more than 700 specialists providing their expertise to disabled people in developing countries free of charge. People can download the app called SCT Telemedicine on mobile phones and SCT has established telemedical links in 78 countries.

SCT raises money that goes toward improving the telemedicine experience and accessibility for disabled patients in developing countries. To begin, financial contributions provide round-the-clock system operators who have the task of analyzing and allocating new cases to specialists. Also, the money raised grants on-site support to partners for telemedical coverage implementation in local communities. This is especially crucial in remote areas of the developing world. Finally, any additional funds are allocated to expanding care to new countries or villages that are struggling to deliver adequate healthcare for disabled populations.

Improving the Lives of the Vulnerable

With a rising technologically dependent world, the Swinfen Charitable Trust is attempting to bridge the gap between poverty and healthcare access in developing countries, particularly for vulnerable populations. By establishing the means for disabled populations to access telemedicine, the disabled population can overcome healthcare barriers and improve their quality of life and life expectancy significantly.

– Sarah Frances
Photo: Flickr