Opinion Paper

A call to give a voice to people with intellectual disabilities in Africa through inclusive research

Callista K. Kahonde
African Journal of Disability | Vol 12 | a1127 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v12i0.1127 | © 2023 Callista K. Kahonde | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 September 2022 | Published: 25 April 2023

About the author(s)

Callista K. Kahonde, Department of Global Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa


Research looking into the day-to-day lives of people with intellectual disabilities (ID) is on the increase in Africa. However, not enough is being done to include people with ID as active contributors to this research through inclusive approaches. Inclusive research empowers people with ID as they have the agency and autonomy to speak for themselves and they are given an active voice in the research process and outcomes. This leads to services that cater for what matters to people with ID themselves as opposed to having their needs defined by other people. The common myths and misconceptions attached to ID in Africa, which increase stigma towards people affected by this type of disability can be abated by their visibility in research and evidence of their ability to express themselves. This article makes a call to researchers on the African continent to include people with ID in research as active contributors to the research and not simply as research subjects or respondents. A background is given of global developments that have occurred in inclusive research based on the literature and the author’s personal experience, which African researchers can learn from while taking cognizance of the specific needs of their own contexts. This is followed by highlighting the gaps in Africa. The article ends with a discussion of possible reasons for a lack of inclusive research in Africa and suggestions and recommendations to address this gap.


intellectual disabilities; inclusive research; Africa; inclusion; human rights.


Total abstract views: 2056
Total article views: 1928


Crossref Citations

1. “Will I Be Celebrated at the End of This Training?” Inclusive Research in Kenya
Rachael W. Wanjagua, Lieke van Heumen, Sarah Parker Harris
Social Sciences  vol: 13  issue: 2  first page: 95  year: 2024  
doi: 10.3390/socsci13020095