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About the client

CBM Christian Blind Mission is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and charity working to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities in development and humanitarian programs.

Background to the project

We have been working with CBM Christian Blind Mission (formerly known as CBM International) and CBM Global Disability Inclusion since 2016.

With the latter, we designed and iterated two online applications Humanitarian Hands on Tool (HHoT) and Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (iDRR).

These tools help humanitarian workers in the field to be more inclusive in their relief programs, and currently being used in Bangladesh and Indonesia to provide support to refugees with disabilities.

In 2021, CBM Christian Blind Mission approached us to design a tool to focus on equal rights for persons with disabilities to live independently. That was the inception of the Inclusive Participation Toolbox. The toolbox aims to support the meaningful inclusion of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations, or Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs), to develop more inclusive humanitarian activities, organise consultations & events, and prepare presentations.

Accessibility benefits everyone. This is a message that we are always very keen to stress when we have discussions with new clients around online accessibility. Because we feel strongly about this, we were delighted to start working with CBM on the toolbox.

Inclusion is not a choice; it is a human right. At CBM, we have a vision of an inclusive world where all persons with disabilities can enjoy their human rights and reach their full potential. This is the vision we want to support with this toolbox.

Michael Herbst, CBM Christian Blind Mission

Project mission

The purpose of the toolbox to give stakeholders in international cooperation the knowledge and material to ensure meaningful participation of persons with disabilities in their activities. It includes background information on why inclusive participation is important and practical advice on how it can be achieved. The toolbox is looking to establish international cooperation from government agencies, NGOs, OPDs, and other stakeholders to have inclusive participation as a priority.

A woman on a wheelchair is pictured while drawing water from a street water pump
A woman in a wheelchair drawing water using an accessible hand pump in Bangladesh.Photo © Centre for Disability in Development (CDD), Dhaka-1340 Bangladesh.

Being part of the wider project team

A multi-stakeholder advisory board was set up with 18 members from across Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America to look at content and digital implementation.

Our preferred way of working is to be a partner rather than a supplier. Because we have worked with CBM for 6 years and counting, we have developed a trusting, collaborative relationship.

The project team (Ian, Francesco, and Marie) joined the CBM Advisory Board to advise on digital accessibility and answer any technical questions from stakeholders relating to the website development.

Meeting so many international stakeholders gave us such in-depth knowledge about the ideas and inspiration for the toolbox which then fed into our design and development decisions.

It was an honour to be invited to join the CBM advisory board on such an important project; where we were able to support CBM to discuss the technical aspects of the project. For me, I love the opportunity to meet so many people who are passionate about inclusion and get to the heart of the issue. I really feel that this toolbox has the potential to change people’s lives for the better.

Francesco Fabbro
Francesco Fabbro, Studio 24
Screenshot of Francesco, Marie, and Ian with other members of the Advisory Board during one of the meetings via Zoom
Ian, Francesco, and Marie with some members of the Advisory Board during one of the meetings via Zoom

A user-centred design strategy

We always start the design by reviewing and discussing user needs and preferences. We did that by holding interviews as part of the initial phase of the project (we call this the discovery phase).

Once we established the user requirements, we then worked with CBM on the content organisation to define the structure of the website, for example, the site navigation and site map.

We then started to design the most important pages the website needs and the elements that make up those pages. The look and feel i.e. colour palette and font came from CBM’s brand guidelines. We used yellow to help show users where they can find practical support documents to download.

One thing you’ll notice is that the designs are light on images. We want the site to be performant and easy to access in countries where internet connection may be patchy. Images can make load times slower.

A focus on accessibility

For a toolbox that promotes inclusive participation, the digital experience has to be accessible to all and user-friendly.

We followed WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) best practices in the design and development. Both manual and automated accessibility testing was performed on a selection of the most representative pages on the site. We addressed all the issues that were raised and a second and final test was done to validate the final work.

Choosing the right technology

We developed the website in Craft CMS. Craft CMS is a very robust content management system. The Craft team made a commitment to make their content authoring experience accessible. It, therefore, made all the more sense to use it for this project.

Although the Inclusive Participation Toolbox was launched in English, other language versions are planned for the future. And Craft comes with internationalisation options out of the box.

The website will be used internationally in all kinds of conditions, including in areas with poor and patchy internet connection. We worked to make the pages as ‘lightweight’ as possible and added a Progressive Web App (PWA) layer to the website. The PWA adds powerful caching functionalities. It stores the pages a user visits into a persistent cache in their browser. Once the pages are cached, they load a lot faster and are available offline.

It was great to have a development partner that has a detailed know-how about accessibility. We got a platform, which is not only free of barriers but also easy to handle. It has a clear structure. As a screen reader-user, it was love at first sight when I used it for the first time.

Michael Herbst, CBM Christian Blind Mission
Screenshot of the Inclusive Participation Toolbox homepage
Inclusive Participation Toolbox homepage

The results

The Inclusive Participation Toolbox helps organisations to reach marginalised groups more effectively and ensure that persons with disabilities are involved in decision making from the start.

70+ glossry terms

Help to navigate the terms around disability and development cooperation. 

100 years of professional expertise from CBM

Working in partnership to create an inclusive society for all.

30 accessibility considerations for events

Accessibility is a pre-condition for persons with disabilities to participate in any process.