Children and Adolescents with Disabilities
Children and adolescents with disabilities must enjoy their rights without discrimination of any kind.
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Children and adolescents with disabilities are one of the most marginalized and excluded groups in society, experiencing widespread violations of their rights. They are most likely to face severe social, economic, cultural and civic disparities as compared with those without disabilities. Negative attitudes, stereotypes, stigma, violence, abuse, isolation, as well as lack of adequate policies and legislation, and educational and economic opportunities are daily experiences they face.
Children and adolescents with disabilities and their families constantly experience barriers to the enjoyment of their human rights and to their inclusion in society
Compared to their peers without disability, children and adolescents with disabilities are often likely to be among the poorest members of the population, and are less likely to attend school, access medical services, or have their views heard in society. Their disabilities also place them at a higher risk of violence and abuse, of being placed in residential institutions, and often exclude them from receiving proper nutrition or humanitarian assistance in emergencies.
Unfortunately, in many countries, responses to the situation of children with disabilities are yet largely limited to institutionalization, abandonment or neglect.
The inclusion of children with disabilities is a matter of rights and social justice, as well as an essential investment in the future of society.
The costs of exclusion are significant for both for the individual and for society. Children and adolescents with disabilities belong at the centre of efforts to build inclusive societies, they hold the same rights as other and can be agents of change and self-determination, not merely the beneficiaries. Moreover, excluded children and adolescents will grow up to be adults who are less likely to work, have poorer health outcomes and who are more dependent on their families and on government services.
Protecting the rights of children with disabilities has been an integral part of UNICEF agenda since the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) went into force. This work further gained momentum with the passing of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The Conventions demand recognition of each child as a full member of her or his family, community and society and entail a focus on investment removing all physical, cultural, economic, communication, mobility and attitudinal barriers that impede the realization of the child’s rights– including the right to active involvement in the making of decisions that affect children’s daily lives.
Necessary and appropriate adaptations are required so that children and adolescents with disabilities can enjoy their rights ensuring without discrimination of any kind on an equal basis with others.
UNICEF uses the term ‘disability’ in line with the definition provided in the CRPD (Article 1): “Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”
UNICEF’s work on disability is guided by a human rights-based approach and inclusive development framework according to the social model of disability. UNICEF strives for meaningful participation of persons with disabilities, including children, adolescents and women with disabilities, in all aspects of UNICEF’s work- in the spirit of the motto “Nothing About Us Without Us”-.
Children with disabilities should be included in the objectives, targets and monitoring indicators of all development programmes.
Regional strategy on Children with disabilities is based on a “twin-track approach”, meaning:
In order to ensure that every child with disabilities in Latin America and the Caribbean can grow up healthy, protected from harm and educated, so they can reach their full potential, UNICEF LACRO focuses on the following areas:
UNICEF protects the rights of children with disabilities contributing to their full development in an inclusive society.
UNICEF LACRO also provides quality assurance, oversight and technical assistance in the inclusion of a disability perspective in the planning, implementation and reporting of the 24 UNICEF country and multi-country programmes in the region.
Resources to cope COVID-19 crisis
Special Olympics has developed different materials on how to protect yourself from the spread of COVID-19 which, as you can see from the resources accessing the links below, aim to provide athletes and families with tools to promote physical activity, healthy eating and emotional well-being at home from early childhood.
Programmatic guidance notes for country offices on children and adolescents with disabilit 2018-2021
This publication provides the basis for UNICEF and its partners in Latin America and the Caribbean to strengthen programming in order to advance the promotion and protection of the human rights of children with disabilities in the region. The document places the importance and current debate on disability. Based on international standards, it establishes progress and challenges in the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in view of the 2030 Agenda. Finally, within UNICEF Strategic Plan 2018-2020 framework, it identifies approaches and actors that support inclusion of this population, exposing a range of programmatic alternatives that have already been successful, to promote new strategies for the benefit of children with disabilities.
Inclusive Education Booklet Collection
The collection’s objective is to provide tools and necessary references to motivate future studies in order to determine how to develop stakeholder’s capacities interested in the advancement of inclusive education. Each of the 14 booklets develops a specific thematic area, provides practical guidance, as well as examples of initiatives and programs that have already been successfully implemented in the region.
By Brian Sokol