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See the Child Before the Disability

Children with disabilities are active and contributing full members of their families, communities, and societies who require investment in removing the physical, cultural, economic, communication, mobility, and attitudinal barriers that impede their full potential and realization of their basic rights. This is the position put forth in UNICEF's recently released flagship report, The State of the World's Children 2013: Children With Disabilities.

The report attempts to raise the collective conscience about children with disabilities, to emphasize that they are children before the disability, with dreams and the desire to fulfill them, although contextual and cultural factors make it difficult for children them to survive and thrive. Exclusion often begins at birth and to varying degrees depending upon the type of disability, where they live, their culture or class, and gender. Girls with disabilities, for example, are less likely than boys with disabilities to receive education services and vocational training to prepare them for employment. Children with disabilities are often invisible from society because they are physically hidden, confined to institutions, and not even registered at birth. Many governments do not have reliable information on the number of children with disabilities residing in their country.

Through its Agenda for Action, UNICEF is optimistic in its hope to build upon nations' formal commitment to fulfilling the rights of children with disabilities. Many nations have, in particular, ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which "bears witness to a growing global movement dedicated to the inclusion of children with disabilities in community life." However, the agenda points out that not every country has ratified these Conventions and that ratification is not enough. Implementation of fulfilling the rights of children with disabilities requires the collective will of national and local governments, non-governmental organizations, parent groups, and communities to honor, monitor, and be held accountable for those rights. Other areas for action include fighting discrimination, ending institutionalization, supporting families, and involving children with disabilities in making decisions.

Each year, UNICEF publishes The State of the World's Children to closely examine a key issue affecting children.

For More Information:

The State of the World's Children 2013: Children With Disabilities (Full Report Download)