PAPER: Disability and Contraception in Developing Countries

Posted on 24 January 2009. Filed under: Academic Papers and Research, Cognitive Impairments, Families, Health, Mobility Impariments, Psychiatric Disabilities | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Doctors, social workers, neighbors, and even family members often mistakenly assume that people with disabilities cannot possibly be interested in sex. Or if they are, others believe they cannot physically participate. Or if they can, others think that no one would want to have sex with them. Because of these myths, people with disabilities are often deliberately excluded from sex education programs and reproductive care services. These include contraception to prevent pregnancy, as well as support for people with disabilities who wish to bear and raise healthy, happy children.

The fact is, a great many people with a wide range of disabilities are capable of having children and desire the rewards that can come with parenthood. And many become excellent parents who raise well-adjusted children. But they often lack family planning services that allow them to make their own choices about how many children to have and when to have them. This may be partly because even family planners who understand the need and importance of counseling for people with disabilities may not know how.

Although people with physical disabilities frequently can and do have children, the nature of some physical disabilities may sometimes affect what kind of contraceptions they can use or how to use them. An article published in 1999 by Family Health International’s journal Network, entitled Disabled Have Many Contraceptive Needs, explains how some physical disabilities, or the medications taken for them, may affect the kinds of contraceptions they are able to use. Family planning professionals may consult this article at

People with mild intellectual disabilities, and also people with psychosocial disabilities, are often as interested in sexuality as the general population. They also may in some cases wish to have children. Both intellectual disabilities and psychosocial disabilities may affect how well contraceptive options or instructions are understood, or how well they may follow instructions. Another article entitled Mental Disabilities Affect Method Options” discusses various examples of how family planning professionals can account for these factors. This article, also published in 1999, can be read at

I learned about these articles through a class I’m taking on Gender, Disability and Development this semester. Thanks, Barbara Earth!

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RESOURCE: Deaf Peers’ Education Manual on Sexuality, HIV & AIDS

Posted on 30 September 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Deaf, Health, HIV/AIDS, Resources, Sub-Saharan Africa Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Research tells us that people with disabilities, and Deaf people, are at higher risk for HIV/AIDS than the general population. But many HIV/AIDS education programs exclude people with disabilities from opportunities to learn how to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS. Sometimes this exclusion is deliberate: some program managers mistakenly assume that Deaf and disabled people don’t need sexuality education because they don’t have sex. In other cases, programs exclude because they don’t offer sign language interpreters, nor do they offer print materials that are accessible to people who are intelligent but who have lacked access to opportunities for an education.

A training manual has been developed that can be used to help trainers learn how to facilitate workshops on sexual health and HIV/AIDS, entitled the The Deaf Peers’ Education Manual (PDF format, 6.44 Mb). This manual is targeted at members of the Kenyan Deaf community. The signs described in the manual, for example, assume knowledge of Kenyan Sign Language, rather than the many other hundreds of signed languages and dialects used around the world. However, most of the content can be easily adapted for use in Deaf communities in other countries.

The manual offers guidance to facilitators on how they can sensitively handle frank discussion of sexuality; the physical and emotional implications of human sexual development; the difference between friendship, infatuation, and real love; how the HIV virus is transmitted; the difference between HIV and AIDS; and how the HIV virus is NOT transmitted. It suggests a range of activities that can be used with Deaf participants to help them understand these complex and sensitive topics.

The manual was first released in 2007. But the organization that initiated the manual, Sahaya International, is interested in revising and updating the manual based on the feedback of other people who use it around the world. At this time, print copies of the manual are not available, but individuals may print their own copy from the PDF file. Koen Van Rampay with Sahaya International invites feedback on the manual, as well as discussion on printing and distributing the manual, at:

More information about Sahaya International; their manual; and their project to teach Deaf people in Kenya about Sexuality and HIV/AIDS is available at:

Please note that the manual has some separate, companion materials that trainers can use in educating Deaf participants. One set of printed materials can be used to teach participants basic facts on human sexual anatomy and reproduction. The other teaches participants about common myths related to HIV/AIDS. Both use cartoons and are designed to be used by readers who may have had limited opportunity to pursue an education or acquire literacy skills. The link to the main Deaf Peers’ Education Manual is available near the top of, but people will need to scroll down to the very bottom of the page to download the other materials.

The linked web page also shows some videos about the Sahaya International project in Kenya. These videos are in Kenya Sign Language with a voice interpreter (presumably in English). Unfortunately, these videos do not have subtitles. This creates a barrier for Deaf people outside of Kenya who might know other signed languages, but not Kenyan Sign Language. This is a shame because some of the people who are likely to have the strongest interest in the Sahaya International project are other Deaf people in other countries who want to emulate their efforts within their own local Deaf communities.

I hope that Sahaya International will find some low-cost (or no-cost) manner for putting subtitles on their videos. A suggestion: Many vloggers (video bloggers) who post to face similar challenges where they wish to subtitle without high tech skills or financial resources. Perhaps a keyword search there would lead to web pages that offer tips, suggestions, and possible resources. Or, if someone reading this at We Can Do can offer the appropriate expertise or technical guidance, perhaps you could contact Sahaya International directly at

We Can Do learned about the Sahaya International project and manual when Ghulam Nabi Nizamani widely circulated an email originating with Koen Van Rampay.

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South Asian CONFERENCE on Autism

Posted on 1 December 2007. Filed under: Announcements, autism, Education, Employment, Events and Conferences, South Asian Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Invitation for Participation in Conference & Training on Autism


15 – 18 Janaury 2008 NEW DELHI

Action For Autism with support from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is proud to host the South Asian Conference on Autism in New Delhi over 15 and 16 January 2008. This will be followed by a two-day practical hands-on training workshop in Structured Teaching on the TEACCH approach over 17 and 18 January 2008.

THE CONFERENCE will have a number of speakers who have Autism and who will speak on growing up and living with autism. There will be national and international presenters on Social Understanding, Adolescent Issues, Employment, Communication, Education, Marriage and Sexuality, among others.

The conference will also provide a professional platform to share and exchange knowledge and learning about various issues affecting the Autism community in South Asia. Academicians, researchers, professionals from the UK, USA, Denmark, Germany and India and SAARC countries from a range of fields have been invited to share and exchange the latest in research and practice.

THE WORKSHOP following the conference will aim to train mainstream teachers, special needs teachers, OTs, SLPs, vocational trainers, Parents, and anyone involved in helping individuals with autism receive an education and life skills training. The training on the TEACCH approach out of North Carolina will address the need for structure in a lifespan perspective, from the classroom right up to employment and future life.

The training workshop only has space for 40 participants.

We would like to invite all of you, researchers, professionals, parents, students, as well as anybody interested in knowing more about the field of Autism to attend the conference and the post conference workshop in Structured Methods.

Details about the conference and the post conference workshop can be viewed at our website as well as the August 2007 issue of our journal ‘Autism Network.’ Registration forms may be downloaded from the website.

The list of presenters along with their topics will be posted on our website shortly. For outstation participants, January is a busy season in Delhi, so please book your accommodation well in advance.

Looking forward to welcoming you to Delhi in January!

Warm regards
The Conference Coordination Team
Action For Autism (AFA)
Sector 5 Jasola Vihar, Behind Sai Niketan
New Delhi 110025 Tel: 91 11 40540991, 91 11 40540992, 91 11 65347422

Even those unable to attend the conference may wish to follow the link to the Action for Autism web site to explore their information and resources related to autism in India, including links to material in Hindi, Tamil, and other Indian languages.

We Can Do learned about this conference through the Intl-Dev email news distribution service, which people can subscribe to for free by following the link.

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