World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2019 to Highlight Disability Inclusion

14 Dec 2018

Chloé Laluc, Public Engagement, World Economic Forum, Tel.: +41 (0)79 589 7002; Email:

  • The need to bolster inclusion for the 1 billion people in the world living with a disability will be a main message at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2019
  • A major exhibition, ACCESS+ABILITY, will profile ingenious designs made with and by people with disabilities
  • Alongside panels, workshops and other sessions, business leaders will launch #valuable, a campaign aimed at committing businesses to putting disability on the boardroom agenda
  • For more information, please visit

Geneva, Switzerland, 14 December 2018 – The need to build a more inclusive society must include the estimated 1 billion people in the world living with a disability. This will be a key message at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2019, on 22-25 January in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.

The meeting will bring together over 3,000 participants from government, international organizations, business, civil society, media, culture, as well as the foremost experts and young people from all over the world. Under the theme, Globalization 4.0: Creating a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, participants will focus on identifying new ideas and solutions to ensure that any further global integration will be more inclusive and sustainable.

To highlight that inclusion must extend to those with disabilities and that people with disabilities have much to offer society and the economy, the Annual Meeting will host a major exhibition, ACCESS+ABILITY. Developed in collaboration with Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, it will feature designs made with and by people with disabilities and demonstrate that designing for inclusion spurs innovation and benefits everyone. Items include an eye-tracking device for hands-free communication, adaptive clothing and a Braille smartwatch.

Among disability advocates participating in the Annual Meeting are: Gina Badenoch, Social Entrepreneur; Susanne Bruyère, Director, Institute on Employment and Disability, Cornell University; Sinéad Burke, Writer and Educator; Caroline Casey, Inclusivity Activist; Yetnebersh Nigussie, Lawyer and Educator; Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer, Unilever; Susannah Rodgers, Paralympian Athlete; and Thorkill Sonne, Social Entrepreneur.

“With people living longer and chronic health conditions increasing, most individuals will experience disability at some point during life. Caring for people with disabilities is in everyone’s interest. Together, we must design a more inclusive world that takes care of everyone’s current and future needs,” said Nico Daswani, Head of Arts and Culture at the World Economic Forum.

Sessions on disability inclusion

- Tuesday 22 January, 08.30 - 09.15: Betazone: Designing for Everyone – Stories of inclusive designs and best practices. With Sinéad Burke, Writer; and Caroline Baumann, Director, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

- Wednesday 23 January: 16.30 - 17.45: Workshop: Making Disability Inclusion Work Workshop with practical toolkit for making organizations more accessible. With Susan Bruyere, Cornell University

- Thursday 24 January, 11.00 - 11.45: Panel Discussion: An Inclusive Future of Education Dialogue on how to build disability-inclusive school and education systems. With Yetnebersh Nigussie, Lawyer and Educator

- Thursday 24 January, 15.30 - 16.00: Press Conference: The #valuable Campaign – Campaign aimed at committing 500 businesses to putting disability on the boardroom agenda. With Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer, Unilever; and Caroline Casey, Inclusivity Activist

- Thursday 24 January, 17.00 - 18.00: Panel Discussion: The Business Case for Disability Inclusion Setting an ambitious new standard for disability inclusion in 2019. With Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer, Unilever

Other highlights

- Sensory Dinner in the Dark: A collective experience in total darkness, led by visually impaired guides, which aims to change perceptions of the self and what people with different abilities can do. In collaboration with Sight of Emotion.

- #valuable campaign: A worldwide call to action for business to position disability on the business agenda and recognize the value and worth of the 1 billion people globally living with a disability

Notes to editors

The Forum is committed to diversity and inclusion in all its practices. As part of its ISO 20121 certification, the Forum is working with Pro Infirmis, a leading Swiss agency for the inclusion of people with disabilities. Pro Infirmis will audit the accessibility of the Annual Meeting 2019 and recommend concrete measures to increase accessibility.

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All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.

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