Barriers and Facilitators for Wheelchair Users in Bangladesh: A Participatory Action Research Project

Heather Michelle Aldersey, Mohammad Morshedul Quadir, Soniya Akter, Rabiul Hossain Mozumder, Nayma Nazneen, Reshma Parvin Nuri


Purpose: People who use wheelchairs face a range of physical, social, and economic barriers to regular participation in their communities. These barriers may be more acute in countries such as Bangladesh which are affected by poverty and often lack the physical infrastructure or resources necessary to create inclusive or accessible environments. This research aimed to identify: (a) the barriers and facilitators to accessibility faced by wheelchair users in Bangladesh; (b) how these barriers affect the inclusion of wheelchair users in Bangladeshi society; and (c) what could be done to improve accessibility and inclusion for wheelchair users in Bangladesh.

Methods:  This participatory action research (PAR) project used Photovoice and semi-structured interviews to identify barriers and facilitators to accessibility for people who use wheelchairs in Bangladesh.

Results: Participants mentioned a number of barriers in public spaces, such as roads, missing or inadequate ramps, inaccessible restrooms, and negative attitudes. There were also participants who had made their home environments more accessible with accommodations such as ramps, arrangement of space, and low countertops/work spaces. Women wheelchair users seemed to face greater barriers to access, as compared to men, in a range of community spaces and activities. Participants’ recommendations for improvement targeted government stakeholders and included greater focus on road infrastructure, particularly during flooding in the rainy season, and modifications to the public transportation system.

Conclusion: A key goal of the study was to identify barriers and facilitators, and use the information gathered to promote social change on the ground. Future research and action should encourage more people to get involved in removing barriers for people with disabilities, in Bangladesh as well as globally.


Wheelchair users; participatory action research; photovoice; accessibility

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