Children and youth with disabilities

Children and youth with disabilities often face greater disadvantage and vulnerability than their peers, due to negative attitudes and lack of inclusive policies. In a development context, research from agencies such as UNICEF has shown how children and young people with disabilities face barriers in accessing vital services such as health and nutrition, education and child protection.

The rights of children and youth with disabilities are protected by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which require mainstream child and youth services to include young people with disabilities, but also recognise that specific policy and program responses might be needed.

UNICEF produced a major report in 2013 focussing on the situation of children with disabilities globally, and highlighting the need for increased attention. Resources below also include reports, videos, and practical guidance on including children with disabilities.

See also: Education, Health, Nutrition and Data collection to inform design and measurement.

Jenkin E, Wilson E, Murfitt K, Clarke M, Campain R and Stockman L (2015) Inclusive Practice for Research with Children with Disability: A Guide PDF

This guide, published by Deakin University, presents a set of resources and tools to support the involvement of children with disability in research, consultation, policy and service development, monitoring and evaluation. It was developed as part of a two year research project that focused on the human rights priorities of children with disability in Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. An outcome of the project was the development of methods for data collection and communication with children with diverse disabilities to enable them to ‘speak’ for themselves. The guide is divided into two main sections. The first summarises what is known about methods of researching with children and those with disabilities, and examines the principles and ethics of this work. The second section presents short guides to each tool, provides general advice for the use of the tools, and gives some practice examples.

Deakin University (2015) Voices of children with disability films Video

Films from Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea explore the lives of children with disability through the tools developed as part of the Voices of Pacific Children with Disability research project. Children with disability from Vanuatu and PNG share their hopes, dreams and concerns, providing a unique portrait of the experiences of children with disability in the Pacific.

International Disability Alliance (IDA) (2012) IDA submission to the Committee on the Rights of the Child for General Comment on Child Rights and Business (Word 66 KB)

This submission from IDA provides its views on the how the rights of children with disabilities can be violated in the context of business and economic development. It includes recommendations to States to avoid these. It covers rights violations regarding public procurement; access to goods and services; the role of corporate actors including pharmaceutical and medical industries; media portrayal of children with disabilities; and the impact of transnational investment policies.

CBM Australia (2012) Inclusion made easy: a quick program guide to disability and development - Child rights chapter (PDF 609 KB)

This chapter, within Part B of the Inclusion made easy manual, gives brief programming guidance for including children with disabilities in other child rights and child protection programming, using a twin track approach. Also included are case studies and helpful checklists. This resource has been designed for implementing partners, particularly program managers/officers within international development agencies. It is also useful for organisations involved in program review and interactions with implementing partners.

UNICEF Childinfo: Monitoring the situation of women and children - Disability page

The Childinfo website contains UNICEF’s statistical information, including data sources used in the publications The state of the world’s children 2013 and Progress for children. The disability page contains statistical data relating to disability, information on the disability module used within the Multiple Cluster Indicator Survey (MICS), summaries of the key issues facing children with disabilities, and UNICEF resources relating to children with disabilities. Statistics available are limited to the countries which have used the MICS questionnaire in national surveys, however given the general lack of statistics available on child disability, it represents a key source. It is regularly updated.

Tavola H and Whippy N (2010) Pacific children with disabilities: a report for UNICEF Pacific’s 2010 midterm review Prepared for UNICEF Pacific office (PDF 1.9 MB)

This report discusses in detail issues relating to children with disabilities in the Pacific region, including specific cultural information regarding childhood disability and individual country profiles for Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji. It also evaluates UNICEF’s involvement in childhood disability in the region up until 2010. It is useful for informing policy and programming in the region.

UNICEF (2013) The state of the world’s children 2013: Children with disabilities (PDF 4.1 MB)

The 2013 edition of UNICEF’s report on children globally is focused on disability. It summarises key barriers that prevent children with disabilities from attaining their rights. It covers childhood disability in the context of health, education, child protection and humanitarian responses in depth, and includes case studies of individuals. It provides policy and program guidance, by describing an agenda for action as well as progress thus far. The latest UNICEF global statistics on childhood disability are included as well as compiled research beyond UNICEF’s data sets. Discussions on current and emerging methodological considerations in relation to the collection of child disability statistics are also included. This is a key resource for understanding childhood disability globally.

International Disability Alliance (IDA) (2012) IDA submission for General Comment of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health (Word 70 KB)

In this submission IDA (which is the umbrella body for global Disabled Peoples Organisation peak bodies) outlines common violations of children with disabilities’ right to health. IDA provides high level recommendations for international and national organisations to support inclusive health systems that appropriately respond to the needs of children with disabilities.

UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre (2007) Promoting the rights of children with disabilities (PDF 874 KB)

This report reviews concrete initiatives and strategies for advancing the societal inclusion of children with disabilities, including through laws and policies, budget allocation and priorities, monitoring and international and regional partnerships. Its recommendations are useful for those working on national level policies and programs. It includes short case studies of inclusion measures in various countries. Note that the resource was developed prior to the WHO/World Bank World Report on Disability (2011), and thus underestimates the prevalence of disability.

There are no case studies available

Washington Group on Disability Statistics technical presentation

Jennifer H. Madans Ph.D., Associate Director for Science, National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and Mitchell Loeb,
Health Scientist, NCHS from the secretariat of the Washington Group on Disability Statistics delivered a technical session
on how to use the Washington Group questions in monitoring data systems and how to disaggregate data by disability
followed by a question and answer session at the University of Melbourne on Thursday, 30 April 2015. The presentation
was organised by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Presentation from the Washington Group on Disability Statistics
Picture of a smiling young boy from Cambodia sitting outside on a mat. He is wearing braces on both of his legs.

Photo: Christoph Ziegenhardt , 2011

3-year-old Savaan* from Cambodia was born with club foot, and received assistance through CBM partner Veterans International Cambodia and learned to walk. Early intervention can be vital for children with disabilities, to ensure they receive necessary treatment and their impairments are managed appropriately. (*pseudonym used) Copyright: CBM