How assistive technology restores dreams for children with disabilities amid adversity and conflict
Experience the life-changing impact of assistive technology in the lives of four children.
From a school in Rwanda, to a playground in Afghanistan where girls are no longer allowed to play sports, to a temporary shelter in Ukraine, and war-torn streets in Syria; from regaining the ability to hear and move, to recovering from the ravages of conflict; these children are united.
Children with disabilities have the same rights as every other child, including the right to equal opportunities. No matter their story, every child has every right to thrive.
Pascaline, 13, struggled with feeling included at school, participating in different activities and communicating with her friends due to hearing difficulties. Last year, following a diagnosis of moderate to severe hearing loss, she tested her hearing aids for the first time. Now, she can communicate more easily and has big dreams for her country, Rwanda.
“My dream is to become a minister. The Prime Minister!"
“Before I received the hearing aids, I couldn’t play with other kids. But now, we can play together because I can hear!"
Watch Pascaline’s full interview to see how she is doing today:
Alisa and Artem, 9-year-old twins, have had their hopes for a brighter tomorrow renewed after receiving hearing aids while staying in a temporary shelter in western Ukraine. Despite enduring the turmoil of war, having to flee their home and watching their school get destroyed, the twins can now dream of hearing the soothing sound of the sea, which holds so much hope for them.
“It is all about making their dreams come true.”
"My children can feel safe, live with the whole family, communicate properly with peers or with anybody in a store, where they can talk without the help of an interpreter – all these things are available thanks to better hearing and improved speaking.”
Watch their heartwarming story:
Hanaa, 7, received crucial support and rehabilitation after a bomb left her paralyzed in war-torn Syria. Hanaa’s story reflects the harsh reality endured by many children who have only known war. Despite injury, trauma, and displacement, her resilience prevails, and she now has two wishes – to help other children with disabilities and to live in peace.
“My dream is to become a physiotherapist to help children like me.”
Fatima, 18, loves playing basketball and captained her wheelchair racing team until 2021, when Afghan girls were banned from sports. This did not discourage her from taking her future in her own hands. As a champion for causes like education and equity, she is now determined to pass a university exam that will enable her to empower others, especially girls with disabilities.
“When I grow up I would like to become a journalist to advocate for children's rights!"
“After I learned how to play basketball, people told me I was a role model for others, especially children with disabilities. When I heard that, I felt so proud, and I continued playing.”
In low- and middle-income countries, children have either no access, or at best they only have access to low-quality, inappropriate AT products. This is because they are often unaffordable, availability is limited, there is a low quality of available products, or a lack of services and trained personnel. During emergencies and conflicts, the need is even more critical as children with disabilities are among the most vulnerable.
UNICEF is working to ensure that assistive and inclusive supplies are available and accessible worldwide, especially in low- and middle-income countries and in emergencies. High-quality, low-cost, appropriate assistive products can be procured by countries through the catalogue:
Our selection of eight wheelchair types– from transport, active users to postural support chairs, available in child and adult sizes – ensures that each user can be fitted with the right model and/or size based on their need and context.
For additional comfort and support, a range of cushions –from postural to different levels of pressure redistributions – and accessories are also available for procurement.
Our selection of five hearing aid types – programmable, behind-the-ear hearing aids, available in child or adult sizes, configurable to suit mild, moderate or profound hearing loss – ensures that each user can be fitted with the right type based on their need and context.
UNICEF plans to expand its catalogue by introducing a new range of assistive products ready for procurement in 2024, broadening the disability portfolio to vision, incontinence, inclusive education and digital AT products.