Governments and international agencies such as UNESCO and UNICEF view access to education as a route out of poverty. Persons with disabilities, both young and older, face barriers in accessing education and often find themselves with lower education levels in comparison to their peers. Evidence has shown that children with disabilities who do not have access to their local school are more likely to live in poverty as an adult.
A number of international frameworks cover access to education both generally and specifically. Sustainable Development Goal 4 (Education) includes a specific reference to the need for people with disabilities to have equal access to all levels of education and vocational training. Disability specific frameworks include UNESCO's Salamanca Statement – Framework for Action on Special Needs Education. The right of persons with disabilities to access education is covered by Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
At a practice level, there is no one single approach to including persons with disabilities in education. It is dependent on a number of factors, such as community capacity, attitudes to disability, education policies and funding. Inclusive education is frequently promoted as the most appropriate option for students with disabilities along with other marginalised groups. This is however dependent on the development of local skills and capacity. Complementary or alternative models such as partial integration, specialist education and life skills training also have a place in educating persons with disabilities. Sign language and/or bilingual (spoken and signed) education are also promoted for children who are Deaf, for whom sign language is a preferred means of communication.
Resources in this section include international and regional frameworks, policy guidance, peer-reviewed evidence on educational access for persons with disabilities, and practical guidance on how to ensure persons with disabilities are able to participate in education.
See also: Children and Youth with Disabilities, Early intervention, Early childhood development, Child protection, Accessible infrastructure and communications.