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Children with disabilities. Ensuring their inclusion in COVID-19 response strategies and evidence generation

UNITED NATIONS CHILDREN'S FUND (UNICEF)
December 2020

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Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, children with disabilities were among the most disadvantaged, facing increased exposure to abuse and discrimination and reduced access to services in many parts of the world. Understanding these pre-existing vulnerabilities can help anticipate how the COVID-19 pandemic could sharpen existing inequities and can shed light on where targeted efforts may be required.

The publication below draws on pre-COVID data to highlight how children with disabilities face greater risks in the midst of this pandemic. It documents what has happened to services for children and adults with disabilities across the world and includes examples of what has been done to address disruptions in services. It also discusses the challenges in generating disability-inclusive data during the pandemic.

Exploring Critical Issues in the Ethical Involvement of Children with Disabilities in Evidence Generation and Use

THOMPSON, Stephen
CANNON, Mariah
WICKENDEN, Mary
2020

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This research brief details the main ethical challenges and corresponding mitigation strategies identified in the literature with regard to the ethical involvement of children with disabilities in evidence generation activities. Evidence generation activities are defined as per the UNICEF Procedure for Ethical Standards in Research, Evaluation, Data Collection and Analysis (2015), as research, evaluation, data collection and analysis. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (art. 12) states that children have the right to form and express views freely in all matters affecting them and that the views of the child must be given due weight in accordance with her/his age and maturity.

 

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (art. 7) states that children with disabilities must enjoy human rights and freedoms on an equal basis with other children, and that they have a right to express their views freely and should be provided with assistance where necessary to realize that right. The two conventions in general, and these two articles specifically, frame this research brief, which aims to encourage practitioners to explicitly consider ethical ways to involve children with disabilities in evidence generation.

 

The findings detailed in this summary brief are based on a rapid review of 57 relevant papers identified through an online search using a systematic approach and consultation with experts. There was a paucity of evidence focusing specifically on the ethical challenges of involving children with disabilities in evidence generation activities. The evidence that did exist in this area was found to focus disproportionately on high-income countries, with low- and middle-income countries markedly under-represented.

COVID-19 response: Considerations for children and adults with disabilities

UNICEF
April 2020

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A guidance note on considerations for children and adults with disabilities in the COVID-19 response. The guidance describes what we need to know about the situation of persons with disabilities in COVID-19 response, and what we need to do in five key points: Limit human to human transmission and protect individuals from exposure; minimise morbidity and mortality; prevent and address the secondary impact of the outbreak- minimise the human consequences of the outbreak; enhance risk reduction and in-country preparedness including coordination; inclusion in UNICEF operations

LEARNING MUST GO ON: Recommendations for keeping children safe and learning, during and after the COVID-19 crisis

April 2020

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This brief highlights some of the potential impacts of school closures (associated with the impact on the COVID-19 on children) with a focus on the most marginalised, including those already living in crisis and conflict contexts. It provides recommendations for governments and donors, together with partners, to ensure that safe, quality and inclusive learning reaches all children and that education systems are strengthened ready for the return to school

Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000–2017 - Special focus on inequalities

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
World Health Organization (WHO)
June 2019

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The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene presents updated national, regional and global estimates for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in households in its 2019 update report, Progress on Household Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene 2000–2017: Special focus on inequalities. The report shows that in 2017:

The population using safely managed drinking water services increased from 61 per cent to 71 per cent
The population using safely managed sanitation services increased from 28 per cent to 45 per cent
60 per cent of the global population had basic handwashing facilities with soap and water at home

The report also focuses on inequalities between and within countries and reveals populations most at risk of being left-behind.

Children with disabilities in situations of armed conflict - a discussion paper

THOMAS, Edward
et al
November 2018

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During armed conflict, children with disabilities are caught in a vicious cycle of violence, social polarization, deteriorating services and deepening poverty. Global estimates suggest there are between 93 million and 150 million children with disabilities under the age of 15.Given that disability is often not reported due to stigma there is reason to believe actual prevalence could be much higher. Although efforts to ensure the fulfilment of their rights have improved, girls and boys with disabilities continue to remain among the most marginalized and excluded segment of the population. This is amplified during situations of armed conflict. The barriers to full participation they face on a day-to-day basis are intensified and compounded when infrastructure is destroyed, and services and systems are compromised and made inaccessible. This results in the further exclusion and marginalization of children with disabilities, and prevents them from accessing schooling, health and psychosocial support, or a means of escape from conflict.

 

When systems and services break down, children are also left more susceptible to violence. Injuries sustained by many children during armed conflict may also lead to long-term impairments. There are six grave violations of children’s rights and protection in armed conflict that are on the agenda of the United Nations (UN) Security Council; killing and maiming, recruitment and use of children, rape or other sexual violence, abduction, attacks on schools or hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access. Governments around the world have committed themselves to respect, promote, and fulfil the rights of children with disabilities, including in situations of armed conflict, and progress is being made. Efforts by a broad range of actors to implement the CRPD, CRC and other human rights instruments include the development of standards to address the rights and needs of persons with disabilities in humanitarian crises, and guidance on making humanitarian response, development and peacebuilding more inclusive. Efforts to improve the collection and use of data concerning children and adults with disabilities are also underway. Yet, as this discussion paper makes clear, much more needs to be done. Investments in disability-inclusive humanitarian action and recovery from crises will pay off, contributing towards a dividend of peace built on greater equality, tolerance and justice. 

The case for investment in accessible and inclusive WASH

PRYOR, Wesley
et al
April 2018

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Using current evidence and testimony from more than 60 WASH experts in 30 countries, this technical paper highlights evidence to argue that accessible and inclusive WASH is achievable at low cost, by using universal design, community-driven change, and existing knowledge, expertise and methods. The paper provides starting points to understand the impact of and case for accessible and inclusive WASH.

Assistive products for children with disabilities guide

UNICEF
March 2018

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UNICEF has issued an Assistive Products guide which addresses needs in four impairment groups: mobility, vision, hearing, and communication.  It provides details of some assistive products currently available on the market and information on when and how they are to be used. It covers a range of devices, from low-tech (e.g., walking sticks, pencil grips) to more complex (e.g., specialized computer software/hardware or motorised wheelchairs). This publication provides practical information to guide UNICEF, partner agencies and Governments in procurement planning and provisioning of assistive products. The information is designed to help with decision-making on the most appropriate assistive products to meet programme objectives and realise the rights of children with disabilities. The selection of assistive products in this overview is based on the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) 2016 Assistive Products Priority List (APL). References to particular brands and models are only illustrative examples available at the time of publication and do not constitute an endorsement of the manufacturer by UNICEF. Indicative prices listed are in US dollars.

Including children with disabilities in humanitarian action: Nutrition

DINSMORE, Christine
Ed
February 2018

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This guidance is designed for UNICEF field staff – including humanitarian field officers, coordinators, specialist and advisors – as well as UNICEF’s partners and others involved in humanitarian work. It provides practical tips and offers entry points for making sure that humanitarian action takes children with disabilities into account. There are 5 other associated guidelines. 

All nutrition humanitarian staff can contribute significantly to the inclusion of children with disabilities, even if not an expert or specialist on issues related to disability. This booklet provides practical tips and entry points to start the process

Chapters include: 

  • impact of emergencies on nutrition of children and women with disabilities
  • why children and adolescents with disabilities are excluded from nutrition and food security interventions
  • frameworks and approaches
  • programmatic actions
  • preparedness
  • response and early recovery
  • recovery and reconstruction
  • practical tips
  • accessible infrastructure tips

Advocating for investment in accessible and inclusive WASH

PRYOR, Wesley
et al
January 2018

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Factsheet summarizing the evidence for accessible and inclusive WASH based on the Case for Investment in Accessible and Inclusive WASH. A quick reference for WASH and Disability actors when advocating for investment in WASH that is accessible and inclusive of children and adults with disabilities. 

Factsheet based on Technical Paper TP/04/2018

Including children with disabilities in humanitarian action: Health and HIV/AIDS

DINSMORE, Christine
October 2017

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This guidance is designed for UNICEF field staff – including humanitarian field officers, coordinators, specialist and advisors – as well as UNICEF’s partners and others involved in humanitarian work. It provides practical tips and offers entry points for making sure that humanitarian action takes children with disabilities into account. There are 5 other associated guidelines. 

Chapters include: 

impact of emergiencies on health of children and adolescents with disabilities
why children and adolescents with disabilities are excluded health and HIV/AIDS interventions
frameworks and approaches
programmatic actions
preparedness
response and early recovery
recovery and reconstruction
practical tips

Including children with disabilities in humanitarian action: Education

DINSMORE, Christine
Ed
October 2017

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This guidance is designed for UNICEF field staff – including humanitarian field officers, coordinators, specialist and advisors – as well as UNICEF’s partners and others involved in humanitarian work. It provides practical tips and offers entry points for making sure that humanitarian action takes children with disabilities into account. There are 5 other associated guidelines. 

Chapters include: 

  • impact of emergiencies on the education of children and adolescents with disabilities
  • why children and adolescents with disabilities are excluded from education interventions
  • frameworks and approaches
  • programmatic actions
  • preparedness
  • response and early recovery
  • recovery and reconstruction
  • practical tips
  • accessible infrastructure tips

Including children with disabilities in humanitarian action: Child protection

DINSMORE, Christine
Ed
September 2017

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This guidance is designed for UNICEF field staff – including humanitarian field officers, coordinators, specialist and advisors – as well as UNICEF’s partners and others involved in humanitarian work. It provides practical tips and offers entry points for making sure that humanitarian action takes children with disabilities into account. There are 5 other associated guidelines. 

Chapters include: 

  • impact of emergiencies on the protection of children and adolescents with disabilities
  • why children and adolescents with disabilities are excluded from child protection interventions
  • frameworks and approaches
  • programmatic actions
  • preparedness
  • response and early recovery
  • recovery and reconstruction
  • practical tips
  • accessible infrastructure tips

 

 

Including children with disabilities in humanitarian action

UNICEF
July 2017

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"The purpose of Including Children with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action is to strengthen the inclusion of children and women with disabilities, and their families, in emergency preparedness, response and early recovery, and recovery and reconstruction. This series of booklets provides insight into the situation of children with disabilities in humanitarian contexts, highlights the ways in which they are excluded from humanitarian action, and offers practical actions and tips to better include children and adolescents with disabilities in all stages of humanitarian action. The booklets were created in response to UNICEF colleagues in the field expressing a need for a practical resource to guide their work. The information and recommendations are based on evidence and good practices gathered from literature and field staff experiences. The six booklets on how to include children and adolescents with disabilities in humanitarian programmes are as follows: 1) general guidance; 2) child protection; 3) education; 4) health and HIV/AIDS; 5) nutrition; 6) water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)".

General guidance available July 2017. Others to follow.

In addition to the PDF versions in English, Arabic and French, the guidance is also available in a range of accessible formats, including EPUB, a Braille-ready file and accessible HTML formats. 

The guidance was developed in collaboration with Handicap International.

Including children with disabilities in humanitarian action: WASH

DINSMORE, Christine
Ed
June 2017

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This guidance is designed for UNICEF field staff – including humanitarian field officers, coordinators, specialist and advisors – as well as UNICEF’s partners and others involved in humanitarian work. It provides practical tips and offers entry points for making sure that humanitarian action takes children with disabilities into account. There are 5 other associated guidelines. 

Chapters include: 

  • impact of emergiencies on children and adolescents with disabilities access to WASH
  • why children and adolescents with disabilities are excluded from WASH interventions
  • frameworks and approaches
  • programmatic actions
  • preparedness
  • response and early recovery
  • recovery and reconstruction
  • practical tips
  • accessible infrastructure tips

A new way to measure child functioning

UNICEF
WASHINGTON GROUP
May 2017

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"In recognizing the need for a set of questions that would produce internationally comparable data on children, the Washington Group formed a subgroup in 2009 that is chaired by the National Statistical Office of Italy (ISTAT). UNICEF joined the subgroup in 2011.

The first main activity of the subgroup was the development of a short set of questions to reflect current thinking on child functioning for inclusion in censuses and surveys. The new module uses the ICF-CY as the conceptual framework and relies on a functional approach to measuring disability.

The Washington Group/UNICEF Module on Child Functioning, finalized in 2016, covers children between 2 and 17 years of age and assesses functional difficulties in different domains including hearing, vision, communication/comprehension, learning, mobility and emotions. To better reflect the degree of functional difficulty, each area is assessed against a rating scale. The purpose is to identify the subpopulation of children who are at greater risk than other children of the same age or who are experiencing limited participation in an unaccommodating environment. The set of questions is intended for use in national household surveys and censuses"

The module is being translated into multiple languages. Supporting documentation, including a concept note, tabulation plan, templates for reporting, guidelines for interviewers and training materials are also available.

UNICEF’S STRATEGY FOR HEALTH (2016-2030) (full version)

UNICEF
August 2016

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For the five year period 2016-2020, UNICEF’s Strategy for Health sets two overarching goals: 1. End preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths 2. Promote the health and development of all children. To achieve these goals, the Strategy considers the health needs of the child at all life stages. It highlights the need for intensified efforts to address growing inequities in health outcomes, including a particular focus on addressing gender-specific needs and barriers that may determine whether boys and girls are able to reach their full potential in health and well-being. Working together with global and local partners, UNICEF will promote three approaches to contribute to these goals: addressing inequities in health outcomes; strengthening health systems including emergency preparedness, response and resilience; and promoting integrated, multisectoral policies and programmes. The three approaches described underpin a "menu of actions” from which country offices can select, based on their situation analysis, country programme focus, and context. 

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