RESOURCE: Brochure on People with Intellectual Disabilities and Disability Rights Treaty

Posted on 22 April 2008. Filed under: Cognitive Impairments, Education, Families, Human Rights, Resources | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

People with intellectual disabilities around the world face enormous challenges in realizing basic human rights such as access to education; legal capacity (the right to make their own decisions); the right to live with their families; and the right to live in the community–not an institution. The new disability rights treaty–the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)–is designed in part to help with these challenges. The CRPD, which has now been ratified by 24 countries, will enter into force on May 3, 2008 simultaneously with the Optional Protocol, which has been ratified by 14 countries.

But how can people with intellectual disabilities and their families use the CRPD to achieve their human rights? And how can people who create and implement policy support their efforts? A new brochure from Inclusion International (PDF format, 585 Kb) provides guidance. The eight-page brochure summarizes how people with intellectual disabilities and their families around the world helped to create the CRPD; how the CRPD helps address some of their key human rights concerns; and the important role of families in guiding, developing, and implementing policies.

The English version of the brochure can be downloaded in PDF format (585 Kb) at:

The Arabic version of the brochure (without pictures) can be downloaded in Word format (515 Kb) at:

We Can Do learned of this brochure through the Disabled People International (DPI) e-newsletter.

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RESOURCE: Atlas on Country Resources in Intellectual Disabilities

Posted on 27 December 2007. Filed under: Academic Papers and Research, Cognitive Impairments, Education, Employment, Families, Health, Human Rights, News, Reports, Resources | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Montreal PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Mental Health have released an atlas that presents global data on intellectual disabilities. The Atlas: Global Resources for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities: 2007 (PDF format, 5.6 Mb) was launched during the Second International Conference on Intellectual Disabilities held in November 2007 in Bangkok, Thailand.

WHO initiated the Atlas in recognition that “global data collection in the field of intellectual disabilities has long been neglected” (Preface, p. 11). The Atlas gives an overview of the extent to which resources and services for children, adolescents, and adults with intellectual disabilities are available throughout all the member states of WHO. This includes information on health services; education; services specific to intellectual disabilities; work-related services such as sheltered or supported employment and vocational training; services to families; and other types of services such as leisure activities, transportation, assistive technology, rights or advocacy support, or food/meal supplies. Data is also given for how these resources and services are distributed by region and by income level.

This information was gathered in the hope that it can be used to help stimulate advocacy and planning efforts in support of people with intellectual disabilities and their families. Specifically, it helps identify specific gaps and needs in the resources and services available for people with intellectual disabilities and their families throughout the world. This information could be used to advocate with governments or foundations for the resources needed to fill these gaps. The Atlas also has developed two instruments that can be used at the country or the regional level to help map where intellectual disability services are available (in Appendix III and IV of the Atlas). Furthermore, the Atlas has helped produce a network of contacts in the intellectual disability field (in Appendix II of the Atlas).

The Atlas also was developed in acknowledgment that disability is increasingly recognized as a human rights issue. Health and other public services for people with intellectual disabilities are a human right, as recognized by the new international disabilities rights treaty. The Atlas was enabled by a new linkage between WHO and the intellectual disability field, via the Montreal PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research in Mental Health and its associated partners, the Lisette-Dupras and the West Montreal Readaptation centres for persons with intellectual disabilities.

This new resource is primarily targeted at individuals and agencies responsible for planning health and social policy and services within countries. However, it also is meant for those who provide services to people with intellectual disabilities; for international and national NGOs active in the intellectual disability field; human rights advocates and activists; public health professionals and students; and for civil society in general.

The entire Atlas is available for free in PDF format (5.6 Mb). You can download it by clicking on the link to:

You can also read more background information on the Atlas, including the contact person at WHO, at:

We Can Do first learned of this resource through the web site for the International Conference on Intellectual Disabilities/Mental Retardation. The information in this blog post was gathered partly from

What other resources are available via We Can Do that you might have overlooked? See the We Can Do Retrospective: The First 100 Posts (and Then Some) for an overview.

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Deaf Children with Additional Disabilities PART ONE

Posted on 29 July 2007. Filed under: Children, Deaf, Education, Multiple Disabilities | Tags: , , , , , , , |

A few years ago, I took a class on deaf children with additional disabilities at Gallaudet University. One project I did for that class was to reach out to some of my contacts in developing countries to gather what information they knew about the challenges experienced by deaf children with additional disabilities, particularly in relation to gaining access to an education.

The information I gathered is now three years old. I’m sure some details have changed since I conducted this project. But most of this is, unfortunately, still valid at least in its broad strokes. Deaf children in developing countries, with or without additional disabilities, too frequently don’t have access to an education.

The project I did for class is much too long to post in a single blog entry. Instead, I will be breaking it up into multiple parts, to be posted over the next few months or so.

Here, I post the introduction, as it was first written three years ago:

Deaf Children with Additional Disabilities in Developing Countries

Introduction: How This Project Fits Into the Big Picture

According to the World Bank, 98 percent of all children with disabilities in developing countries are not in school. About 40 million children with disabilities of primary school age are not receiving an education. This includes children who have only a single disability, for example sighted deaf children without mental retardation, learning disabilities, or mobility impairments. What then of deafblind children? Or deaf children with mental retardation? Or deaf children with any other combination of additional disabilities? (NOTE: The link that I originally provided as a source three years ago seems to be gone or revised now. But the World Bank page on education is at If I’m able to re-locate something more specific later, I’ll come back and edit this paragraph accordingly.)

It is often difficult to find reliable, documented information on deaf children or adults in developing countries. Finding reliable information on specific sub populations, such as deaf children with additional disabilities, is even more difficult. This knowledge does exist–but in bits and pieces, locked away inside the heads of hundreds of people around the world who have worked directly with, or at least visited and observed, programs for deaf children in developing countries. I wanted to gather together some of these little pieces of information into one place, even if only in an informal fashion.

Finding the Information
This project began, primarily, as an informal survey of people I already knew via email who either live and work in developing countries or who live in developed countries but who have traveled extensively. Many of my initial contacts were not able to assist within the time frame available. Some may not have seen my email message at all. People in developed countries who work in the international field travel extensively and may be away from email contact for weeks or months at a time, while people in developing countries, for various reasons that I will not elaborate upon here, often have unreliable email access and may also go weeks at a time without being able to check email. Other contacts simply did not have the time to reply. Those who are actively working with deaf communities in developing countries often consider their work to be tantamount to a “calling” and may have little time to devote to any task that does not directly benefit the local deaf community. Also, people in developing countries are more likely to have two or more jobs simply to survive, and thus still have little or no time for email.

Nevertheless, some people did reply, either to share information or to suggest further contacts or to point me to resources on the web or elsewhere that might assist. Some of my “second generation” contacts referred me to still more possible contacts. During the past two weeks, I have sent out email messages to about 59 individuals around the world. I also sent email messages to three list servers: one, deafintl , is devoted to deaf people in developing countries; another is for deaf people in or from Africa; and a third is exclusively for women with various disabilities who participated in a recent leadership training program, Women’s Institute for Leadership and Development, that took place in Eugene, Oregon, last fall through the organization Mobility International USA.

My Sources

Ultimately, I gathered information from the following sources:

> More than a dozen individuals sent me partial or complete replies to my questions.
– Most emails were very brief.
– However, a few individuals were able to answer follow-up questions.
– One individual went the extra mile by personally visiting schools in Lahore, Pakistan, in an attempt to gather information.

> One individual sent me her 43 page masters thesis, written entirely in Spanish, which contained some relevant information. Her thesis is summarized in the section on Argentina.

> I also consulted some web sites that were recommended to me, but particularly the following:
Perkins School for the Blind
Sense International

It should be noted that, for most countries, I only had one contact or other source of information. Even people who have been active for many years within the deaf community of a given country are not necessarily familiar with all resources available to that community, particularly when it comes to resources that might be available in a different part of the country, or resources outside their professional field, or resources targeted at a sub population within the deaf community in which they have not specialized. The information shared in this document, accordingly, should not be considered complete even in the few cases (e.g., Kenya) where I received responses from more than one person.

In some places, I included quotes from the people who shared information with me. In all of these cases, the quotes reflect the tone, opinions, attitudes, and sentiments of the person quoted. The inclusion of a given quote does not imply that I necessarily agree or disagree with the person’s position.

I have organized the information by country. I will put each country in a separate post at this blog over the next few weeks. When I do, I will edit this entry to include a direct link to each post .

Guest bloggers are welcome to submit essays, announcements, resources, articles, case studies, and opinion pieces of their own to “We Can Do.” I encourage you to first read the Introduction to We Can Do blog.I don’t have a written set of guidelines for guest bloggers–yet. But I’m working on them. In the meantime, if you’re interested, please contact me at ashettle [at] and we can discuss.

(Replace [at] with the at sign @ and type the email address as one word with no spaces. Sorry to present my email address in such a cumbersome way. I’m trying to prevent my email address from being hijacked by even more spam harvesters than the five million who have already been flooding my email box.)

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