Participation of Persons With Disabilities in India’s Aadhaar Project

37 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2020

See all articles by Smriti Parsheera

Smriti Parsheera

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi; CyberBRICS Project, FGV Law School

Date Written: September 28, 2020


The adoption of digital identity systems is often backed by an inclusionary narrative, targeted mainly towards vulnerable and marginalized groups. Yet, the reality of many such projects tends to be marred by the invisibility of the very same groups from the dominant policy and research discourse. Focusing on the interaction of persons with disabilities with the world’s largest national digital identity project, Aadhaar, this paper evaluates the extent to which the interests of persons with disabilities were accounted for in the design, planning and implementation of Aadhaar. It does so based on interactions with stakeholders, review of the Unique Identification Authority of India’s documentation and the literature on bio-metric usability. The paper identifies several gaps in the design and roll out of the project and highlights better participation, usability assessment, accessibility and redress as some of the main areas where much more work is required.

Keywords: Disabilities, Digital Identity, Aadhaar, Inclusion, Access, Usability

JEL Classification: O31, O33, O38, I18,

Suggested Citation

Parsheera, Smriti, Participation of Persons With Disabilities in India’s Aadhaar Project (September 28, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Smriti Parsheera (Contact Author)

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi ( email )

CyberBRICS Project, FGV Law School ( email )

FGV Law School

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