Disability and International Development: A Guide for Students and Practitioners, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Disability and International Development

A Guide for Students and Practitioners, 1st Edition

By David Cobley


196 pages | 9 B/W Illus.

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Despite growing evidence of a close and complex relationship between disability and poverty, development policy, planning and programming has often failed to take full account of the concerns of disabled people. However, following the 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, which promises to ‘leave no one behind’, there have been increasing calls from governments and development agencies for disability to be mainstreamed into all development planning. Disability and International Development provides a comprehensive overview of key themes in the field of disability and development, including issues around identity, poverty, disability rights, education, health, livelihoods, disaster recovery and approaches to researching disability.

The book engages with relevant theory and draws on existing literature in the field, as well as the author’s own research and teaching experience, to explore key issues using a range of examples taken from around the world. Written in an accessible and engaging style to suit both students and practitioners, the book also includes a wide range of reflection exercises, discussion questions and further reading suggestions, making it the perfect introduction to disability and international development.


"Disability and International Development is a major contribution towards making the human rights of persons with disabilities, especially the right to be included in international cooperation, a reality. Cobley has provided a work that provides both a critical reading of disability and development theory and is immediately applicable in the concrete work of policymaking and program implementation."Stephen Meyers, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Law, Society and Justice/Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, USA

"David Cobley has written an excellent introductory textbook on disability and international development, that provides mandatory reading for all students studying development studies and disability studies. It positively combines a very good academic grounding in this ever-expanding field with excellent case studies that illustrate the practicalities of living with a disability in developing countries."Raymond Lang, Senior Research Fellow, Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre, University College London, UK

"This book provides a great tool to generate interdisciplinary dialogue regarding the relevance of disability across sectors for inclusive, sustainable development. For all students, academics and researchers, the book tackles terminology and theories that inform approaches to inclusive policies and programmes. It addresses the complexity of service provision across sectors, which demonstrates the multiple transitions experienced by persons with disabilities and their families. " — Theresa Lorenzo, Professor and Programme Convenor for Disability Studies Doctoral Programme, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Excerpt of reviewin Disability and Society, Routledge

"…an excellent introduction to the topic especially for those familiar with only one of the fields concerned: disability or development. This book is the perfect launch pad for students and practitioners who work in only one of the fields and would like to work in, or promote, disability inclusive development. Cobley brings together various literatures from disability studies and covers a wide range of topics, ranging from western disability models to international and regional treaties governing disability rights, health, education, employment, disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) and the disability movement, the disability–poverty nexus, and also less-covered topics like disasters. It ends with a very important subject: researching disability and the importance of enabling methods. Throughout the book, the author cites examples from different parts of the world, including Asia, Africa, the Americas, as well as western countries. The book does what it sets out to do and what it claims to do in the title: it guides students and early practitioners by giving a general overview of the salient aspects of disability in development."-- Lara Bezzina, Independent Researcher, Malta

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Understanding, Defining and Measuring Disability

3. Disability, Identity and Shared Experiences of Poverty

4. International Agreements on Disability

5. Disabled People’s Organisations and the International Disability Rights Movement

6. Disability, Health and Rehabilitation

7. Access to Education

8. Pathways to Economic Participation

9. Disability and Disasters

10. Researching Disability

About the Author

David Cobley is a Teaching Fellow at the International Development Department, University of Birmingham, UK.

About the Series

Rethinking Development

Rethinking Development offers accessible and thought-provoking overviews of contemporary topics in international development and aid. Providing original empirical and analytical insights, the books in this series push thinking in new directions by challenging current conceptualizations and developing new ones.  

This is a dynamic and inspiring series for all those engaged with today’s debates surrounding development issues, whether they be students, scholars, policy makers and practitioners internationally. These interdisciplinary books provide an invaluable resource for discussion in advanced undergraduate and postgraduate courses in development studies as well as in anthropology, economics, politics, geography, media studies and sociology.

To submit proposals, please contact the Development Studies Editor, Helena Hurd ([email protected]).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / People with Disabilities
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing Countries