Children with disabilities
UNICEF upholds the rights of children with disabilities. We tackle the barriers that keep them isolated to ensure they stay with their families, get a good education and participate in community life.
Turkmenistan was the first country in Central Asia to ratify the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities in 2008. Turkmenistan has improved the legislative and regulatory framework with regard to the barrier-free access of government buildings, leisure, and cultural facilities and public housings in recent years and embedded the accessibility requirements into the national legislation.
In 2017, there were 17,300 children age 0-17 who have received child disability benefits. However, the number of children with disabilities in Turkmenistan is likely to be much higher. It is mostly a result of the medical model of disability that dominates in the national legislation. The medical model of disability is still deeply embedded in decision-makers, educators, and parents’ mindsets. The medical model has often focused more on what is ‘‘wrong’’ and how children with disabilities may be ‘‘remediated’’ to fit into mainstream schools, than on inclusive education approaches and practices. The newly adopted regulations on neonatal screening are expected to contribute to the efforts of prevention, early identification, and early intervention.
We don’t get to see many people of disabilities in public places, including schools. We recommend increased accessibility in public transports, public and social facilities, and increased availability of assistive devices for people with disabilities, decent labour, inclusive educational and healthcare opportunities for all, including children.
UNICEF works with the Government to support the establishment of multi-disciplinary teams across the network of rehabilitation centres (pediatricians, pedagogues, physical and occupational therapists, specialists on early communication, psychologists). These teams will provide assessment and support of children with disabilities and their families guided by the social model of disability. The services will aim at promoting their inclusion in mainstream education (initially in pre-school) and overall social inclusion of these children and their families. This, in turn, will support the reduction in the number of children in these facilities and result in their deinstitutionalization. Based on the above concept, the rehabilitation centres may potentially transform into resource centres to provide family support services and promote inclusive education.
Disability is not the attribute of the individual; instead, it is created by the social environment and requires social change. Under this approach, the disability focus is no longer how to provide for those deemed "unable" to integrate into mainstream society, but rather how to make society accessible to all, on an equal and non-separate basis.