Inclusive supplies making a difference for children living with disabilities
This International Day of Persons with Disabilities we highlight our work in Assistive Technology and a new momentum to bring inclusive supplies to children worldwide.
Aseel, age eight, was left partially paralysed after undergoing surgery at eight months old. She has spent most of her life finding ways to adapt and experience a normal childhood. But as a refugee living in Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan, she struggled to stay engaged in the classroom since the stroller she was using as a make-shift wheelchair was hurting her back.
UNICEF staff noticed her challenges, and, via disability-focused programming, a wheelchair of appropriate size and design was provided to Aseel to help her be included in school activities.
“It’s not only my daughter. There are also others
who need help even more. Some have lost a limb, or need hearing aids, or even glasses.”
A new momentum for inclusive supplies
In recent years, UNICEF has been building the momentum to improve the situation for the nearly 240 million children who live with one or more disability worldwide. Through four overarching strategies, UNICEF aims to expand access to assistive technology and make the world a better and more inclusive place for children like Aseel.
1 - We are introducing more assistive technologies to programming
By identifying and working with assistive technology companies, we strive to ensure that quality and appropriate products are available in the UNICEF Supply Catalogue. This includes working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to create new guidance on how, what, and where to procure and use the technology.
2 - We are incorporating inclusive features into UNICEF standard supplies
With an enormous procurement power of US$ 3.8 billion annually (2019) and expertise in managing the largest humanitarian warehouse for children in the world, UNICEF has an opportunity to further scale inclusive supplies. By amending our standard supplies to incorporate inclusive features (for example, improvements to the School-in-the-Box for the visually impaired, as demonstrated in this film) we can make a tremendous impact on the lives of millions of children with disabilities around the world.
3 - We are working with partners to innovate disability-friendly products
Through our work in product innovation, we are bringing new disability-friendly products to programming. These items have gone through a comprehensive innovation process to ensure the right product at the right price is available for children.
4 - Via global partnerships like ATscale, we can amplify our efforts
Through key partnerships we can amplify the momentum to bring assistive technology to millions of people. Along with the International Disability Alliance, USAID, Norad, and others, UNICEF is a founding partner of ATscale, the Global Partnership for Assistive Technology, whereby organizations work together on funding strategies and programmes with the vision that every person can access and afford the life-changing assistive technology they need.
The impact of disability-friendly supplies
Disability-friendly supplies have a direct impact on the well-being of children. Assistive technology supports their inclusion into society, thereby increasing the opportunities for education and employment. For example, a proper use of hearing aids leads young children to improved language skills. Or, an appropriate wheelchair - like the one given to Aseel - can increase the chances of participating in school.
By bringing an inclusive focus to our supplies, children with disabilities can access tools and devices to help them participate in society and restore their rights as children.
Learn more about UNICEF’s work in assistive technology.