In the early 1990s, UNESCO estimated that perhaps 97% of the world's 650 million disabled persons were unable to read or write, leading to significant efforts throughout the developing world to ensure that all children with disabilities attended school through ‘inclusive education’ programmes. But what of the vast majority of persons with disabilities who now are adolescents or adults, well beyond the reach of classroom education, or the estimated 90% of disabled children who will still ‘age out’ of the system before such inclusive education is available in their communities? In this paper, we review findings from a global literature search on literacy of adults with disability in developing countries which shows that there is currently little in international development, education, health or disability research policies or programmes that addresses this issue. On the basis of these findings we argue that while inclusive education efforts for children are important, more attention also needs to be directed to providing literacy skills to illiterate and marginally literate disabled adolescents and adults.
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