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Disability Rights Convention distributed in Braille, audio and sign language in Montenegro

© UNICEF Montenegro/2011/Sevaljevic
President of Montenegro Filip Vujanović presents copies of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Braille, audio and sign language, the first country in the Balkans region to do so.

By Jelena Perovic

CETINJE, Montenegro, 13 June 2011 – Six children with visual and hearing impairments have received the first copies in the Balkans of the child-friendly version of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Braille, audio and sign language.

Widening access

It is part of the ‘It’s About Ability’ campaign in support of the inclusion of children with disabilities, a UNICEF-supported Government of Montenegro initiative which began in 2010. More than 100 partners have joined the campaign to help change attitudes and practices of the general public towards children with disabilities.

Around 200 senior government officials, Ambassadors, representatives of the media, civil and private sector, school principals, teachers, parents and children from all over the country gathered as President of Montenegro Filip Vujanović launched the Convention in Braille, audio and sign language at a special event.

“Effective communication is a necessary pre-condition for including children with disabilities in all activities that other children participate in,” said Mr. Vujanović. “This is essential, because children learn what they live. If they are segregated by ability and skill for most of the day, theoretical lessons on respecting diversity not only won’t have any effect, but are senseless.”

The President gave the first copies of the Convention to the six children in the town of Cetinje, while the remaining 500 copies in Braille and 100 copies with audio and sign language versions will be distributed all over Montenegro.

© UNICEF Montenegro/2011/Sevaljevic
One of the visually impaired children reads the Convention in Braille at the event in the town of Cetinje, Montenegro.

The idea of making versions of the Convention in Braille, audio and sign language came from Badema Sirotanovic, a child activist involved in the ‘It’s About Ability’ campaign. Ms. Sirotanovic thanked UNICEF for keeping the promise given to her to provide Montenegro’s children with the Convention in Braille, audio and sign language.

“I believe that in this way, children with sight and hearing impairments all over Montenegro can better understand their rights,” she said.

Ending discrimination

Children were the main protagonists of the event. Nikola Zekic, a boy with visual impairment, acted as moderator, while Marijana Blazevic and Nikola Zekic, who have sight impairments, played piano at the end.

UNICEF Representative in Montenegro Noala Skinner pointed out that the success of the campaign in highlighting the potential of all children involved making them acting participants.

“Through ‘It’s About Ability’, children and young people with and without disabilities are being given the opportunity to participate and to share their thoughts and ideas on inclusion,” she said. “This is in the spirit not only of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

The UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006. It is the first human rights convention of the 21st century and the first legally binding instrument with comprehensive protection of the rights of persons with disabilities, including children.

© UNICEF Montenegro/2011/Sevaljevic
Nikola Zekic, 15, who is visually impaired, plays the piano at the 'It's About Ability' event in Cetinje, Montenegro.

Article 21 of the Convention states that people have right to get information in the form in which they can understand and use it.

According to Ms. Sirotanovic, providing the Convention in Braille, audio and sign language is an important step towards building an inclusive society in Montenegro. The next, she says, is to make school text books available in Braille or as an audio version, “to make it possible for children all over Montenegro to study what they would like and want to.”

Full inclusion

Head of the European Union Delegation to Montenegro, Ambassador Leopold Maurer, invited Montenegro to continue building an inclusive society in order to become an EU member in future. “Montenegro now aims at implementing the legal and political framework for anti-discrimination in harmony with international standards, which is one of the seven conditions for starting the European Union accession negotiations,” he said. “We must all together strive to this goal.”

The ‘‘It’s About Ability’ campaign promotes full inclusion of children with disabilities into all aspects of life in Montenegro, including within families, schools and communities.



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