Global goals to end poverty should leave no one behind

Ellie Cox, intern with Shropshire-based hearing loss charity Signal, writes about new global anti-poverty goals and their relevance for people living with disabilities…

Leaders of the United Nations member countries are gathering to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals in a summit at the end of September. These are global goals to bring an end to poverty and reduce inequalities by 2030 – and they make specific reference to disability.

The new goals will build on the Millennium Development Goals which were agreed in 2000 and expire this year. Despite achievements in tackling extreme poverty under the first set of goals, progress has tended to bypass more vulnerable groups in society including people with disabilities.

Around one billion people or 15% of the world’s population have some form of disability, according to the World Health Organization. Individuals with disabilities worldwide can face barriers to participation in social and economic life, and this is shown through the estimate that one in three children who are not in school has a disability.

In adopting the Sustainable Development Goals, United Nations members specifically pledge to “leave no one behind”. For example, Goal 4 of 17 goals is to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”  This goal includes the ambition to “…ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including people with disabilities…” 

Both at home in Shropshire and in sub-Saharan Africa, Signal already works to help to ensure that deaf and hard of hearing people are not left behind. In Shropshire, Signal: The Hub is a place where people can find emotional and practical support to overcome the communication difficulties that hearing loss brings. While the charity’s Outreach and Befriending projects promote social inclusion and confidence building in our communities.

In Africa, Signal and its local partners help marginalised deaf children & young people to gain acceptance and receive an education and training and health information-in an accessible form. This includes working with families, teachers and community leaders to change negative cultural beliefs about deafness. In the UK, too, public awareness raising is part of the work to build deaf friendly communities.

By helping to lift the stigma surrounding deafness, providing deaf children and their families with communication strategies and training teachers in special educational needs, the drop out rate from school of these children in the areas reached by the charity’s projects in Malawi, for example, Has fallen from 90% to below 5%.

More information about the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals can be found here: For more information about Signal’s work, please visit:









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