D C I - Zimbabwe

 Zimbabwe Child Rights Defenders    

Children With Disabilities

1What the UN Convention says
Article 23 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that a mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child’s active participation in the community.

It goes on to recognise

  • The special needs of disabled children 
  • The needs of parents for assistance in order to meet those special needs 
  • The right of children to effective access to education, training, health care services, rehabilitation services, preparation for employment and recreation opportunities.

The stated aim is that the child achieves the fullest possible social integration and individual development, including his or her cultural and spiritual development.

Interventions and Help:

Charter of Rights for Disabled Children:

This charter can be used for information and advocacy, and is useful as a checklist for monitoring the situation of children living with a disability. Disabled children have the right to:

  • live and realise their potential 
  • medical care and early intervention services 
  • assistive devices 
  • parents who are enabled to provide a loving, caring family environment 
  • education – schools that provide for ALL children 
  • parents who are empowered to have a say in how schools are run

These rights are first and foremost the responsibility of the State :
Disabled children have the right to:

  • respect, understanding and support 
  • public facilities that are accessible to all children 
  • assistance to children to realise their full potential 
  • a welcoming attitude and open doors in the community 
  • protection against anything that discriminates against them or excludes them

These rights are first and foremost the responsibility of the Community:
Disabled children have the right to:

  • acceptance and love so that they can develop trust 
  • a home where they can realise their full potential 
  • be empowered and educated so that they can communicate, move around and be as independent as possible 
  • have their strengths concentrated on and not their weaknesses 
  • advocacy for better facilities

These rights are first and foremost the responsibility of the Family:
Disabled children have the responsibility to:

  • love and respect those that care for them 
  • work hard to develop their abilities and to live fully 
  • become as independent as possible 
  • have patience with those who do not understand their disability 
  • understand their rights and accept that they are equal but different

Helping children to be aware of the rights of the disabled:

Use daily events and experiences as opportunities to talk with children informally about special needs.  How do children with hearing, sight or physical impairment manage daily routines?  How do they feel when people stare and comment aloud about them? Encourage children to take books out from the library about disabilities and children, and read and discuss these. Point out biased remarks as they occur in daily life, and challenge them. Teachers at schools and in clubs or religious organisations can take a disability as a learning area (theme), or part of a theme such as “Sight”.

  • Collect visual materials for displays, notice boards and learning games.  Photos, newspaper clippings, greeting cards, magazine cut-outs and advertisements often reflect a wide range of special needs. 
  • Write to organisations for the disabled and request posters, brochures and other information. 
  • Look for props for dramatic plays or make them. “Disabled” dolls and puppets can help small children to be comfortable with a disability, but also sensitive to special needs. 
  • Send a letter to parents explaining the theme and asking for their cooperation 
  • Encourage the children to plan an activity to support children with disabilities in their own or nearby community – making “feely games” for the children in an institute for the visually impaired, for example.  One such idea for a game is to collect old whole socks, and put a small object in the toe of each.  The child feels through the sock to guess what it is.