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15 February 2013
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNICEF, 1989), adopted in 1989, included the first explicit provision relating to the rights of children with disabilities. It included a prohibition against discrimination on the grounds of disability (art. 2), and obligations to provide services for children with disabilities, in order to enable them to achieve the fullest possible social integration (art. 23). The more recent Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN, 2006), adopted in 2006, further strengthened the rights of children with disabilities with a dedicated article on children (art. 7).
These Conventions focus on the disparities faced by children with disabilities and call for improvements in their access to services, and in their participation in all aspects of life. In order to achieve these goals, there is a need for improved data collection internationally. The current lack of accurate data impedes the development, implementation and evaluation of policies and programmes that would improve the lives of children with disabilities.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities encourages States to collect appropriate information, including statistical and research data, to enable them to formulate and implement policies to give effect to the Convention (art. 31). The limits of the data available and the importance of improving statistical information on disability in order to develop internationally comparable indicators for policy purposes has been also stressed by the UN General Assembly 2011 - special section on “Status of the Convention on Rights of the Child” and in the World Disability Report 2011 (WHO, 2011).
Recognizing the lack of internationally comparable data on child functioning and disability, the Washington Group on Disability Statistics (WG) and UNICEF are collaborating on the development of a survey module that will address the need for current and relevant data to meet that need. The new WG/UNICEF survey module covers children between 2 and 17 years of age, and assesses speech and language, hearing, vision, learning (cognition and intellectual development), mobility and motor skills, emotions and behaviours. The module has undergone cognitive testing in a few countries (with more cognitive testing planned) and, following field testing, will be made available for countries to use in household surveys and censuses.
This UNICEF/WG hosted side event will provide information on the activities of this collaborative effort, progress made, and future plans. A Q&A will follow the presentations and participants will be invited to provide feedback.