Innovative Practice 2019 on Independent Living and Political Participation

Disability-led centres providing a range of services for independent living

Lebanon Forum of the Handicapped (FOH) – a disability-led independent-living centre with branches in the cities of Tripoli, Dinneyeh, Koura, and Akkar – provides a range of services to support persons with a variety of disabilities. The centres provide home alterations, accessible transportation, assistive equipment, and training, and they also coordinate additional services that they do not provide themselves. In 2017, 47 homes were adapted, 223 people were provided with transport, 120 people took part in sport or the arts, and 2,435 assistive devices were provided.

“I went to the Forum of the handicapped to get Psychosocial therapy and at moment my life totally changed because I had my own world that I belong to.”

About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Disability-led independent living centres
Organisation:Forum for the Handicapped
of Implementation


  • In 2016 and 2017, some 6,000 persons in total benefitted from FOH’s health-related services.
  • FOH provided vocational training for approximately 400 people in 2017, up from 150 in 2016.


People in Lebanon with a physical disability or visual impairment may find it difficult to live independently due to a lack of accessible infrastructure, assistive equipment, and a support system.


FOH is run entirely by people with disabilities and aims to offer comprehensive services for such people in their home and throughout their daily lives. The organization’s four independent living centres offer home alteration, four accessible transportation, and a volunteer assistance programme. The centres also offer a health and equipment programme, providing supportive technology such as wheelchairs and Braille machines, along with repairs and training, plus health services in the client’s home. FOH also coordinates additional services, such as health or education, which are provided by other organizations.

The centres act as a model of integration and inclusion by providing the infrastructure to enable self-sufficiency. In 2017, transport was provided to 223 people, 2,435 pieces of assistive equipment were provided, and 25 homes were adapted with accessibility features. FOH offers an alternative to institutionalisation for people who are blind or have a physical disability, and this has led to the Tripoli authorities to introduce accessibility measures for public spaces, including buildings, pavements, and parks. All projects implemented by the Tripoli municipality must now include accessibility measures.


FOH has grown from a group of volunteers in a small apartment in 1986 to four centres across Lebanon in 2018, and it is currently planning to open additional offices in Beirut and the Bequa Valley. In 2017, the project cost US$1 million across all the sites, with over 50 per cent coming from the central government Ministries and the rest from a mixture of UN projects and donations.

Replication is further possible by training other organizations in the model, but to be successful it is important for organizations to engage fully with the local community and local government. Another important replication feature is that any new centre must be led and directed by persons with disabilities themselves.


Nawaf Kabbara


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