Rights of children with disabilities

The Rights of Children with Disabilities

I.D.E School has the rights of children with disabilities at the very heart of the work that it does.  We believe ALL children have a right to education no matter what their disability and we take a rights-based approach to our work.  For more information about the rights of children with disabilities, please click on the links below:

·The National Policy on Disability for Sri Lanka, 2003 (5.2.1)

·The UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities 2007 (5.2.2)

The National Policy on Disability for Sri Lanka, 2003 (5.2.1)

In 2003, the Ministry of Social Welfare introduced a new National Policy on Disability.  The policy outlines the rights adults and children with disabilities in Sri Lanka should have.  At the present time the Policy is not legally enforceable and there is a lot of work to be done to ensure that all people with disabilities enjoy these rights.  I.D.E School commits to ensuring that its students will enjoy the appropriate rights whilst attending the school.

The Policy outlines 21 rights:


1. Right to Employment

2. Right to Vocational Training and Skills Development

3. Right to Poverty Alleviation

4. Right to Education

5. Right to Non-Formal Education

6. Right to Higher Education

7. Right to Health

8. Right to Sports

9. Right to Transport

10. Right to Housing

11. Right to Social Security

12. Access to the Built Environment and Accessible Tourism

13. Access to Communication and Information

14. Assistive Devices and Information Technology

15. Rights for Children with Disabilities

16. Rights for Youths with Disabilities

17. Rights for Women with Disabilities

18. Rights for Elderly Persons

19. Rights for Person Affected by Armed Conflict

20. Rights for Individuals who have Severe Disability

21. Access to Mass Media

For more information about the Policy, please contact the Ministry of Social Welfare.

General Information

The UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities 2007

I.D.E School has the rights of children with disabilities at the very heart of the work that it does.  We believe ALL children have a right to education no matter what their disability and we take a rights-based approach to our work.  The following section highlights the Articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that have specific relevance to the school.  It then outlines how the schools practice complies with the Articles.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was signed by the Sri Lankan government in 2007 and it is now the responsibility of the government to consider ratifying and implementing it.  I.D.E School hope the government will turn this Convention into law as quickly as possible.  The first article says that people with disabilities includes people with intellectual disabilities.  It therefore applies to all the children at I.D.E School and for this reason; the school tries to ensure its practices follows the principles within the Convention.

Respecting the Rights of Children with Disabilities (Article 7)

The Convention says very clearly that all actions concerning children with disabilities should have the ‘best interests of the child’ as its first consideration.

At I.D.E School, the best interests of the child are most definitely at the heart of its work. Every teacher, teaching assistant and therapist works to ensure that the educational, emotional and developmental needs of the child are being met.  Each child is given the opportunity to develop the skills he or she needs to voice their own opinion about their interests.

Respecting the Right to an Education (Article 24)

ALL children have the right to an education and this right should exist for children with disabilities too.  The Convention gives lots of detail about how this right should be provided.  It makes clear that education should be available for every child to develop:

• to their fullest potential;

• the skills to participate in a free society and as equal members of the community;

• life and social development skills;

• their talent and creativity.

The Convention also says that education should be individualised and provided in environments that maximize academic and social development. 

I.D.E School is totally committed to ensuring children with intellectual disabilities can access their right to an education.  Each child is given individual attention, an individual curriculum and not labelled.  The carefully individualised package of education, skills training and therapies offered means that each child can reach their fullest potential and develop the life and social skills required by the Convention.  The range of therapies offered, from music therapy to water therapy, also mean each child’s talents and creative skills can be discovered and developed at a pace appropriate for them.

In Sri Lanka, the facilities available for children with intellectual disabilities are very restricted and fragmented. Most of the children at I.D.E School have been excluded from free and compulsory schooling.  Without the work of the school, many of the children would not be able to exercise their basic right to an education. 

Respecting the Right to Live Independently and be Included in the Community (Article 19)

The Convention says that people with disabilities should be able to live in society autonomously and be included in their community if they choose. 

Many of the children at the School experience difficulty being independent or being included in their communities.  This is because they have not previously been taught skills in a way that they are able to understand. The school use a variety of respected teaching methods to teach the children skills that may help them live independently.  These include washing, dressing, cooking and using the bathroom independently and move on to more advanced skills when appropriate. 

Respecting Freedom of Expression and Access to Information (Article 21)

The Convention says that people with disabilities should be able to share thoughts, beliefs, feelings, or personality, through verbal or non-verbal means.  In order to do this the Convention says, where possible, alternative methods of communication should be used. 

The School uses a number of different methods to help the children to express themselves.  For children that are non-verbal, picture boards are used for communicating feelings, problems and choices. Children are also offered speech therapy to develop their verbal communication where appropriate. Whatever is most appropriate for each child is always considered.

Respecting Privacy (Article 22)

The Convention says that people with disabilities’ lives should be honoured, appreciated and treated with dignity.  The Convention also says information about people with disabilities should be protected in the same way other people’s information is protected.

I.D.E School respects the privacy of its children and their families.  It does not share information about students or distribute photos of the children without the full consent of their parents.  Children with disabilities are too often not given the same level of privacy that other children are given, particularly when details of their individual impairments are concerned.  For this reason, I.D.E School only speaks in general terms about the impairments of its students and only when this information is relevant.

Respecting the Home and Family (Article 23)

The Convention says that people with disabilities have the same rights as everyone else to a family life and information, services and support should be given to people with disabilities and their families.

By providing information and advice to parents, I.D.E School is supporting families of children with disabilities.  Through its parents groups, it offers parents an opportunity to share their experiences and seek advice from others.  The Principle also meets regularly with individual parents to give them information about their child’s education and to involve them in the development of future plans, teaching methods and communication developments.

Respecting the Right to Habilitation (Article 26)

The Convention says that people with disabilities should be equipped with the means to achieve optimal functioning.

The school offers habilitation services through weekly visiting therapists.  These therapists include speech therapists, music, water and free movement therapy and an occupational therapist. By offering such a range of therapies, the school is allowing children to access this right and to discover which habilitation service is most appropriate for them.  None of the children at idea school require physiotherapy or assistive devices.

Respecting the Right to Participate in Culture, Recreation and Sport (Article 30) 

The Convention says that people with disabilities should have equal access to play, relaxation and sports as other people. 

The school offers children the opportunity to participate in a number of sporting and leisure activities.  Weekly swimming and yoga classes are offered to the students and the school organises social events to celebrate New Year and other achievements of the students.

Freedom from Cruel Treatment, Punishment or Abuse (Articles 15 and 16)

The Convention prohibits any acts which cause severe pain or suffering on a person with disabilities. It also says that people with disabilities must be protected from economic, physical and mental mistreatment.

All I.D.E School teachers are qualified to teach children with special educational needs and have been taught how to manage violent or difficult behaviour of a child in a non-violent way.  The emphasis is on finding a way to protect both the child and the teacher, if the child’s behaviour becomes violent.  The school maintains an extremely strict policy of non-violence towards any student.  Teachers are required to sign a policy to this effect before they are allowed to work in the school. 

The full text of the Convention is available at:


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