Adolescence and disability

Adolescents with disabilities are among the most marginalized and poorest of all of the world's youth. According to the United Nations, almost a third of the world’s disabled population are youth and over 80% live in developing countries. Like people with disabilities generally, adolescents with disabilities often experience social exclusion and discrimination and do not have the same access to human rights as their non-disabled peers.

Adolescence is a time of great emotional and psychological change, of emerging sexuality and important life choices about employment and education. During this period of transition, adolescents, and especially those with disabilities, may be vulnerable in society.

Disability and/or international development programmes tend to focus on young children or adults, without specific attention to the needs and interests of adolescents. This can negatively affect opportunities for adolescents to develop skills and participate in community life. Key factors influencing personal development and socialisation often include the attitude and behaviour of parents, family members and peers, and traditional social or community values.

Disability and adolescence is an under researched area, with limited data on prevalence and impact. With regard to preventing disability, it is important to note that adolescence itself can be a risk or causal factor, as young people are at increased risk of acquiring impairments, for example through road traffic accidents, injuries from sport activities, violence or warfare. More research is required, especially given that the numbers of youth with disabilities is likely to increase due to medical advancements and the youthful age-structure of most developing countries.

The issues highlighted in this keylist such as rights, education, employment, sexuality and relationships, affect adolescents generally; however, they are more pronounced in young people with disabilities. This keylist has been produced in partnership with Young Voices, an international campaign of the Leonard Cheshire Disability Global Alliance. We welcome your suggestions: please send comments or suggested additions to sourceassistant@hi-uk.org.

Leonard Cheshire Disability International

Selected resources

Introductory resources

Adolescents and youth with disabilities : issues and challenges

GROCE, Nora Ellen
2003

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"Of all people with disabilities, particularly in the developing world, the people about whom we know least are adolescents and young adults... Although research may be lacking, extrapolation from data that is available on youth in general and disability in general may provide a starting point for assessing and addressing the urgent needs and untapped potentials of young people with disabilities. This may be possible because the needs of young people who are disabled are strikingly similar to those of their peers who are nondisabled. Everyone, after all, shares a need for education, job training, and employment as well as a successful transition from childhood to adulthood through participation in social, cultural, religious, and economic affairs"

Child and adolescent health and development

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO)

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This WHO website on nutrition issues for children and young children contains useful resources and information on feeding and nutrition for infants and children between the ages of two and five as well as adolescent nutrition

Disabled village children : a guide for community health workers, rehabilitation workers, and families

WERNER, David
1999

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This well-known manual contains a wealth of information that is crucial for therapists, professionals and community groups. It deals comprehensively with all common childhood disabilities including polio, cerebral palsy, juvenile arthritis, blindness and deafness. It provides clear, detailed information and easy-to-implement ideas for rehabilitation at the village level, the development of skills, making low-cost aids and the prevention of disabilities

Fact sheet : youth with disabilities

UNITED NATIONS PROGRAMME ON YOUTH
2010

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This fact sheet presents general information about youth with disabilities worldwide. It highlights the following specific topics: prevalence, poverty, family situation, education, transition into working life and financial independence, employment, sex and relationship, acceptance and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD). This factsheet is useful for people interested in youth with disabilities

Learning to listen : consulting children and young people with disabilities

SAVE THE CHILDREN
2001

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This report is based on a consultation with disabled children and young people in London in 2000. It focuses on the methods and processes of carrying out such a consultation-consent issues, how to structure consultation sessions and tools used. It also discusses the difficulties faced, and contains a checklist for managers commissioning and planning similar consultations

Youth living with disabilities

SCHINDLMAYR, Thomas
2007

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This briefing note is part of an awareness-raising activity by the UN Programme on Youth to provide information on issues from a youth policy making perspective. The document provides statistical data on the under-researched topic of youth and disability and gives information on issues related to family relations, employment, education, sexuality and acceptance in society from a world-wide perspective. This briefing note is useful for people who are interested in issues related to youth and disability
Briefing Note on Youth, No. 2

Youth with disabilities

GROCE, Nora,
KETT, Maria
April 2014

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Of all groups of youth, the group about which we know the least are youth with disabilities. In transition between childhood and adulthood, these are the years when all young people go through physical and psychological maturation, are expected to complete their education, acquire skills and assume a social identity that will enable them to fully participate in their communities and societies. This working paper discusses the issues faced by young people with disabilities and what is known and not known about this distinct age group

Working Paper 23

 

Rights

An overview of young people living with disabilities : their needs and their rights

GROCE, Nora Ellen
1999

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This paper discusses findings from the global UNICEF survey on Young People with Disabilities. It presents the global social, demographic and economic issues that young people with disabilities encounter, including social isolation, education, sexuality, and substance abuse. The author argues that very often organisations working with young disabled people focus on job training, but ignore other needs, such as psychosocial support and rehabilitation. Finally, the paper highlights innovative programmes that have successfully reached out to disabled children and young people
This paper may be of interest to anyone generally interested in learning more about youth and disability from an international point of view

I'm a teenager : what happened to my rights?

HALFORD, Stuart
et al
November 2004

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This book covers 15 issues affecting the world's young people, such as sexual exploitation, child labour, crime and punishment, HIV and AIDS, and early marriage and motherhood. Chapter 13 deals with issues facing disabled youth including prejudice, abuse and lack of education. The book describes Plan International's work around the world addressing youth issues

See me, hear me : a guide to using the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities to promote the rights of children

LANSDOWN, Gerison
2009

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See Me, Hear Me examines how the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) can be used to support disabled children, alongside the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The guide analyses the inter-relationship of the two Conventions and provides examples of good practice on how both Conventions should be implemented by governments with regards to children. This guide is a useful tool for child and disability rights advocates, government officials, and anybody interested in child and/or disability rights

Speaking out : a guide for advocates for children and young people with learning disabilities

NATIONAL SOCIETY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO CHILDREN (NSPCC),
VOICE UK
2005

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Speaking out is a guide aimed at advocates for children and young people with learning disabilities. It explains what makes a good advocate and what doesn’t, and refers to important issues such as respect, independence, information sharing and promoting the rights of children and young persons with disabilities. Although primarily aimed at disability rights advocates in the UK, this guide can be useful to anyone working with children and young people with learning disabilities

Young voices : our statement to the world

YOUNG VOICES MEMBERS
2013

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The report presents a shared call for action from Young Voices members across the world who came together to agree a common statement of what they think needs to change to make the rights of disabled people a reality. Covering a broad range of issues, including education, employment, health and political participation, the publication also features case studies of how Young Voices groups have taken action to promote equal opportunities for disabled people

Education and employment

Disability, poverty, and schooling in developing countries : results from 14 household surveys

FILMER, Deon
November 2005

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This paper analyses the correlations between a young person’s disability, the economic status of their household, and their school participation. The survey was conducted using 11 household surveys in nine developing countries. The results show that some youth with disabilities live in poorer households, but the extent is not statistically significant. However, young people with disabilities are often less likely to start school and show lower transition rates. This finding suggests that, in developing countries, disability may lead to long-run poverty since youth with disabilities are less likely to achieve qualifications which would allow them to earn higher incomes in their later life
The paper is useful for policy makers and professionals working in development
SP Discussion Paper No 0539

Forgotten youth : disability and development in India

SINGAL, Nidhi
January 2008

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This paper examines the experiences of youth with disabilities in India and their transformation to adulthood. Using the 2007 World Development Report, this work explores the opportunities available to young people in terms of learning, work and citizenship. This resource would be useful for anyone with an interest in disability and development

What do people think about disabled youth and employment in developed and developing countries?|Results from an e-discussion hosted by the World Bank

ROGGEROA, Paola
et al
October 2006

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This article presents the results of a four week e-discussion designed and hosted by the World Bank to explore ideas and gain information on young people and employment. The aim of the discussion was to get input from people whose opinions are seldom represented in academics. The article explores the main topics of the discussion, which included society’s perception of disability, education, government policies and the role of intermediaries, and present conclusions. This article is useful for anyone working with disabled youth or people generally interested in disabled youth and employment
Disability & Society
Vol 21, No 6

Young voices : young people’s views of inclusive education

LEWIS, Ingrid
September 2008

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This booklet provides young people's perspectives of inclusive education based upon the findings of Young Voices, an inclusive education project in primary, secondary and vocational schools in Uganda and Tanzania. Students with and without disabilities participated in the Young Voices activities. The booklet highlights the issues raised about inclusive education policy, attitudes, behaviour, resource allocation and environmental issues. It contains students’ photos, drawings and quotations to illustrate their responses. It is useful for people interested in inclusive education issues in Eastern Africa

Specific health and disability issues

Atlas child and adolescent mental health resources : global concerns : implications for the future

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO),
World Psychiatric Association,
International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions
2005

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The information gathered for the child and adolescent mental health ATLAS was collected through a survey instrument designed specifically to gain information on youth services, training activities, and providers resources in all regions of the world. The primary purposes of the report were to stimulate additional data gathering in a systematic fashion and to encourage the development of needed child and adolescent mental health policy, services and training.
Contents: 1. Introduction 2. Methods and limitations 3. Rights of the child and adolescent 4. Policy and programmes 5. Information systems 6. Need for services 7. Service system gaps 8. Integration of services 9. Barriers to care 10. Care providers 11. Training for care 12. Financing of care 13. Availability and use of medication 14. The future 15. References

Caring for children and adolescents with mental disorders : setting WHO directions

WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION (WHO)
2003

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This report presents updated information useful for the formulation of a child and adolescent mental health care plan. The plan is based on the magnitude of the burden of child and adolescent mental disorders; advances made in treatment and diagnosis; barriers to treatment; and trends in care for children and adolescents with mental disorders

Double burden : a situation analysis of HIV/AIDS and young people with disabilities in Rwanda and Uganda

YOUSAFZAI, Aisha,
EDWARDS, Karen
2004

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This analysis was carried out by Save the Children UK after reports from the field suggested that disabled people were not accessing HIV prevention information or services, despite being at higher risk of infection. It outlines ways in which disabled people are not fully included in safer-sex communications: for instance blind people hear talk about condoms, but have never held one; the necessity to have a sign-language interpreter for deaf people compromises their right to confidentiality; young girls with disabilities are more likely to be raped and are less able to negotiate safe sex. It recommends the greater integration of disabled people into health and HIV communications and further research to develop disabled-friendly means of communication

Lost in transition? How to find your way through

EVERITT, Gabriella
April 2007

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This research addresses the transition of young people with a disability from paediatric to adult service provision. This comprehensive work includes definitions and explanations of relevant concepts and policies, as well as a transition plan which includes a set of priorities for parents and young disabled people. This resource would be useful for anyone with an interest in child development and disability and development

Making HIV/AIDS our problem : young people and the development challenge in South Africa

KELLY, K
et al
March 2002

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During 2001 Save the Children commissioned a study to explore approaches to engaging youth response to HIV/AIDS. This involved the development of two action research interventions in very different communities, one in a rural community in the Eastern Cape, and the other at a school for the blind. The case studies chosen for the report were selected because they involve young people who have been particularly overlooked in HIV prevention responses, namely disabled young people and young people in rural areas. The projects in these communities set out to explore the capacity of young people to respond to AIDS, and how contextual factors mediate response at individual and community levels

Towards and AIDS-free generation : promoting community based strategies for and with children and adolescents with disabilities

MERESMAN, Sergio
July 2012

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This resource highlights that children and adolescents with disabilities are critical to achieving an AIDS-free generation. It provides information about family- and community-based responses for a disability-sensitive AIDS-free generation, and specific recommendations for working with children, adolescents and young people with disabilities in HIV programmes. Opportunities and entry points for implementation are given, as well as examples of materials developed by adolescents with disabilities and community-based organizations

Young people we care! : a book of ideas for young people supporting each other in their communities

SHERMAN, Judith
September 2003

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This book is designed to help groups of young people support either younger children or their peers who are living in communities and households affected by AIDS. It can also be used by home-based care organisations that want to involve young people in their home-based care activities. Written for a facilitator or young person with a good knowledge of HIV/AIDS and facilitation experience, it aims to prepare a group of young people to implement the community activities. It includes participatory activities to help young people think through a number of topics. The community activities section is written for young people and suggests ways to help support other young people and children in the community

Young people with a physical disability

PLATFORM HANDICAP AND ONTWIKKELINGSSAMENWERKING (PHOS)
1999

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This is the report of a seminar in Ghent which brought together young disabled people from Sri Lanka, Uganda and Romania. It includes papers on rights and the worldwide situation of young disabled people, and a debate on the life experiences of the participants from developing countries

Young person's introduction to mental health

MIND
2005

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This factsheet is written for young people who have had experience of mental illness or who are caring for someone with mental illness. It covers causes and types of mental illness including depression, manic depression, postnatal depression, anxiety, phobias, obsessions, eating problems, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, overeating and schizophrenia. Although written for a UK audience, much of the information is relevant to readers in the South

Social and life skills development

'That kind of life?' Social exclusion and young disabled people with high levels of support needs

MORRIS, Jenny,
Scope
2001

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"Government policy assumes social inclusion is about having a job. Young disabled people say it is about having friends, choices and being listened to. Young disabled people who have high levels of support needs are absent from our communities. Policies and practice are developed without considering their views and needs. At the heart of this report are the direct experiences of 44 young people with high levels of physical, sensory and/or cognitive impairment. Their powerful messages have major implications for the current policy agenda and show what needs to be done to combat social exclusion"

Disability and transition to adulthood : achieving independent living

HENDEY, Nicola,
PASCALL, Gillian
et al
2001

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This resource examines key structures which can help disabled people with the transition to adulthood. By starting with families and then expanding to wider social structures such as education, housing, work and benefit provisions, each chapter highlights the respondents who achieve paid employment and independent living

Life skills education for children and adolescents in schools : introduction and guidelines to facilitate the development and implementation of life skills programmes

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO). Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse
1994

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This publication focuses on the teaching of daily living skills to children and young people in schools. It is therefore targeted at those organisations involved in school curriculum development, health education, and the development of school-based health and social interventions. Although directed at schools it can be adapted and interpreted to guide the development of life-skills education for children and adults elsewhere

Transitions to adulthood for young people with disabilities in India : current status and emerging prospects

SINGAL, Nidhi,
JEFFERY, Roger
2009

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Approximately 5 to 5.5 millions young people with disabilities live in India; however, little is known about how they and their families perceive their transitions to adulthood. This paper uses the framework of transitions provided in the World Bank’s ‘World Development Report 2007’ to analyze opportunities for young people with disabilities with regards to issues such as education, employment and citizenship in India. The authors examine the lived experience of youth with disabilities by analyzing existing literature and secondary data. This paper is useful for people interested in learning more about youth with disabilities in India
Asia Pacific Disability Rehabilitation Journal
Vol 20, No 1

Sexuality, abuse and gender issues

A custom distorted : beliefs about sexual abuse involving teenagers with intellectual disability at a rural setting in South Africa

PHASHA, N,
MYAKA, Lucy
2009

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This paper is based upon the findings of a study that took place in a rural setting in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It describes the social problem of sexual abuse of teenagers with intellectual disabilities by analyzing the roots of common misconceptions of intellectual disability, which render these teenagers vulnerable to sexual abuse. This paper is useful for anyone interested in learning more about disability and misconceptions of disability in Africa

Disability rights, gender, and development : a resource tool for action

DE SILVA DE ALWIS, Rangita,
SECRETARIAT FOR THE CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS (DESA)/UNITED NATIONS,
UNITED NATIONS POPULATION FUND (UNFPA)
2008

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This manual contains resource materials on approaches to promote the human rights of persons with disabilities, especially women and children, in inclusive people-centered development. It is divided into three modules: Locating the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities within the Human Rights Framework; Tools for Promoting the Rights of Women and Children with Disabilities; and An Inclusive Approach to Gender, Disability, and Development. Each module includes case studies, good practices, analysis and actions to guide human rights practice and the development agenda. This manual is useful for organisations, government agencies and academic institutions who are interested in promoting the human rights of people with disabilities, especially women and children

Our right to be protected from violence : activities for learning and taking action for children and young people

FOUNTAIN, Susan
2007

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This booklet is aimed at adults, youth leaders and peer educators that work with groups of young people aged 12-18. It highlights information on the UN Study on Violence Against Children, and suggests many different activities that can be used when working with young people on issues of violence and abuse. The material provides useful ideas on how to communicate and talk about issues of violence and abuse for educators and youth leaders who work with youth groups

Sexuality education for children and youth with disabilities [whole issue]

1992

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This issue of the news digest focuses on disabled children and young people. Different articles focus on the development of sexuality, how disabilities affect sexuality and relationships. The news digest is of interest to parents of disabled children, social workers and community-based disability organisations.
A list of useful resources and contacts are attached to the news digest which focus mainly on the USA

Violence against disabled children|UN Secretary General's report on violence against children thematic group on violence against disabled children : findings and recommendations

GROCE, Nora
2005

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This report sets out findings and recommendations determined by the the Thematic Group on Violence Against Disabled Children. The larger aim of this resource is to identify how violence against disabled children can be best addressed in society. This work would be useful for anyone with an interest in child abuse issues, and disability and development

Leisure

All abroad!

MOBILITY INTERNATIONAL USA (MIUSA)
2000

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All Abroad! is an informational film to raise awareness about the possibilities and benefits of international exchange for people with physical disabilities. Mainly aimed at disability audiences, All Abroad! answers questions related to funding, accessible accommodations and other details related to international exchange opportunities. This video is useful to people interested in international exchange for people with physical disabilities
English version is free online; Japanese version can be bought for US$19.95 from their website

Fun inclusive : sports and games as means of rehabilitation, interaction and integration for children and young people with disabilities

IKELBERG, Jenny
et al
2003

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This handbook looks at the activities used in the GTZ (German Agency for Technical Co-operation) pilot project called "Rehabilitation through sports activities for children and young people in war-affected countries". The project aimed to strengthen disabled children both physically and mentally by promoting their rehabilitation, social integration and capacity for self help. The handbook provides basic guidelines for the implementation of sports and games as a means of rehabilitation and integration, building on the experiences from workshops in Angola and Cambodia, which tested 12 games. It includes an evaluation sheet that can be adapted and used

Hello! Are you listening? Disabled teenagers' experience of access to inclusive leisure

MURRAY, Pippa
2002

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Leisure is an important aspect of our lives allowing us to expand our horizons through the development of our interests, whilst at the same time giving us the opportunity to meet and interact with others holding similar interests.
Leisure takes on an additional significance for disabled people who generally do not experience easy access into mainstream education or work. Barriers to full and equal participation in these areas result in young disabled people having more time for leisure pursuits but experiencing greater difficulty in accessing leisure services, activities and pastimes

Multi-media projects

Ability Online

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Activity focused and very vibrant Canadian site in English and French. Internet interaction is provided for young people with disabilities. Produces a newsletter and provides extensive links to other resources and organisations working in disability and rehabilitation.

Listen to our stories : words, pictures, and songs by young people with disabilities

HILLYER, Linda
2008

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Listen to Our Stories highlights poetry, essays, interviews, songs, journal writing, letters, and pictures that tell the personal stories of young people with disabilities. The contributors are young girls and boys aged 5 to 21, from varied backgrounds, different talents and a range of disabilities. This website may be useful to anyone interested in personal life stories and experiences, written or told by children and young adults with disabilities

Protect yourself : an HIV and AIDS awareness video for use by deaf and hearing people

REMARK
2002

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This video provides HIV and AIDS awareness material for young deaf Ghanaians in Ghanaian sign language. The video aims to ensure that the deaf community in Ghana receives equal HIV and AIDS information as the hearing community in their own language. The film was made with a deaf film-making company from the UK working alongside young deaf people from a secondary school for the deaf

Young voices : speak out

LEONARD CHESHIRE DISABILITY

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This website highlights Young Voices, a project that brings together groups of young people with disabilities from 19 countries around the world. Young Voices enables youth to share their experiences of fighting discrimination through filming, and encourages youth to learn more about their rights and how to campaign for them. The website contains links to the films, an online forum and related resources. This project is interesting to anyone interested in personal life stories and experiences, told and filmed from the perspective of young people living with disabilities in developing countries

Young voices : young people’s views of inclusive education

LEWIS, Ingrid
2007

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This short film and accompanying booklet students with and without disabilities who have participated in the Young Voices activities, provide their personal perspectives of inclusive education. The schools were partners in inclusive education projects with the Atlas Alliance
This resource would be useful for people interested in inclusive education issues in Eastern Africa