Disabilities and Rights

On 19 November, two Special Olympics champions join Lady Kristina Moore and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Sir Roger Moore at a UNICEF-supported sports event for children with disabilities, at Haileybury Almaty School in the city of Almaty. © UNICEF/NYHQ2010-2514/Giacomo Pirozzi

What are disabilities?

A disability is a long-term impairment that may limit participation in society on an equal basis with others. Disabilities can be physical (such as loss of a limb), mental (such as depression), intellectual (such as learning disabilities) or sensory (such as blindness). Disabilities can be temporary or permanent, and some people are born with disabilities, while others become disabled through injuries or accidents.

How do disabilities affect children and young people?

Children and young people with disabilities often face many challenges as a result of their disability. Many do not get a chance to go to school – sometimes because it is difficult or impossible to get to their schools, or sometimes because families and communities do not prioritize education for children and young people with

Even if a person with a disability finishes school, he/she faces more challenges when trying to find a job. Many employers are worried that a person with a disability will not be as productive as other employees, and many workplaces are not equipped so that a person with a disability can function and work to the best of their ability.

Disability is also linked with poverty, both as a cause and a consequence. Many children become disabled as a result of malnutrition and diseases, or they are injured in road accidents and in conflict situations. Young people with disabilities might end up in poverty, or become even poorer, as they cannot find paid employment and have difficulties accessing public services.

Stigma and discrimination are major obstacles 

Children and young people with disabilities are often considered to be a burden to their families and communities, and they might not be expected to be able to learn or develop new skills. It is therefore important to educate everyone about what a disability actually is, and that children and young people with disabilities can be productive members of their communities and societies if they are given a chance.

It’s about ability!


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