|© UNICEF/HQ 97-0906/LeMoyne|
|In Azerbaijan’s capital of Baku, an adolescent girl works at a UNICEF-assisted crisis help line centre, run by disabled adolescents, for children in difficulty.|
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NEW YORK, 20 October 2004 – Around the world there are millions of children and young people living with disabilities. This week on Voices of Youth (UNICEF’s global website for young people), a discussion thread is focusing on issues related to living with a disability. Participating are guest panellists Vivien Batory and Juan Angel De Gouveia, from the World Federation of the Deaf, Youth Section – an international non-governmental organization.
Ms. Batory and Mr. De Gouveia are sharing insights and experiences gained from working with young people who have a disability – in particular with those who are hearing-impaired, as well as their own personal experiences as hearing-impaired youth.
Participating young people have asked the panellists many questions about the support that children living with a disability need from other children and from their communities.
Ms. Batory emphasised in one of her posts that disabled children, youth and adults want to have their opinions and ideas counted, and not to be second-guessed on what is right for them.
“The most important thing about helping disabled children/youth/adults is to ask them what they want before taking action. Often deaf people, and I assume, people with other disabilities … face other non-disabled people taking decisions based on what they think will be the best for those with disabilities, without asking them their opinion,” posted Ms. Batory.
“…I think that the difficulty for deaf people … is that many people (the society) are pre-judging them, and underestimate deaf people; a loss of hearing doesn’t mean loss of brain-cells. This often occurs to many people with disabilities. It’s mostly the society around them that measures and judges people with disabilities without really knowing their abilities!” she added.
For the young people who are involved with this discussion and others like it, there is an opportunity to become agents of change. UNICEF is supporting this multitude of young voices by putting them in touch with other members of the global community who are also working to support children’s rights.
By inviting participation on Voices of Youth’s forums from organizations such as the World Federation of the Deaf, UNICEF is helping to realize young peoples right to participate. A diverse and vibrant online community gives youth around the world an opportunity to discuss issues and methods for championing children’s rights everywhere.
Text of online posts has been minimally edited for style.