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UNESCO Flagship, Education for All: The Right to Education for Persons with Disabilities:

UNESCO Flagship, “Education for All: The Right to Education for Persons with Disabilities: Towards Inclusion”


The Right to Education for Persons with Disabilities: Towards Inclusion


According to estimates of international agencies:

More than 90 per cent of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend schools.

Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989


Article 2

1. States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child's or his or her parent's or legal guardian's race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.

Article 23

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948


Article 25
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
Article 26

Millennium Development Goals, 2000


2. Achieve universal primary education: Ensure that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling

UN Standard Rules on Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, 1993


Section II: Target Areas for Equal Participation

Rule 5. Accessibility
Rule 6. Education
Rule 7. Employment
Rule 8. Income maintenance and social security

Rule 5. Accessibility

States should recognize the overall importance of accessibility in the process of the equalization of opportunities in all spheres of society. For persons with disabilities of any kind, States should (a) introduce programmes of action to make the physical environment accessible; and (b) undertake measures to provide access to information and communication.

  • Access to the physical environment

    • States should initiate measures to remove the obstacles to participation in the physical environment. Such measures should be to develop standards and guidelines and to consider enacting legislation to ensure accessibility to various areas in society, such as housing, buildings, public transport services and other means of transportation, streets and other outdoor environments.
    • States should ensure that architects, construction engineers and others who are professionally involved in the design and construction of the physical environment have access to adequate information on disability policy and measures to achieve accessibility.
    • Accessibility requirements should be included in the design and construction of the physical environment from the beginning of the designing process.
    • Organizations of persons with disabilities should be consulted when standards and norms for accessibility are being developed. They should also be involved locally from the initial planning stage when public construction projects are being designed, thus ensuring maximum accessibility.
  • Access to information and communication

    • Persons with disabilities and, where appropriate, their families and advocates should have access to full information on diagnosis, rights and available services and programmes, at all stages. Such information should be presented in forms accessible to persons with disabilities.
    • States should develop strategies to make information services and documentation accessible for different groups of persons with disabilities. Braille, tape services, large print and other appropriate technologies should be used to provide access to written information and documentation for persons with visual impairments. Similarly, appropriate technologies should be used to provide access to spoken information for
      persons with auditory impairments or comprehension difficulties.
    • Consideration should be given to the use of sign language in the education of deaf children, in their families and communities. Sign language interpretation services should also be provided to facilitate the communication between deaf persons and others.
    • Consideration should also be given to the needs of people with other communication disabilities.
    • States should encourage the media, especially television, radio and newspapers, to make their services accessible.
    • States should ensure that new computerized information and service systems offered to the general public are either made initially accessible or are adapted to be made accessible to persons with disabilities.
    • Organizations of persons with disabilities should be consulted when measures to make information services accessible are being developed.

Rule 6. Education

States should recognize the principle of equal primary, secondary and tertiary educational opportunities for children, youth and adults with disabilities, in integrated settings. They should ensure that the education of persons with disabilities is an integral part of the educational system.

  • General educational authorities are responsible for the education of persons with disabilities in integrated settings. Education for persons with disabilities should form an integral part of national educational planning, curriculum development and school organization.
  • Education in mainstream schools presupposes the provision of interpreter and other appropriate support services. Adequate accessibility and support services, designed to meet the needs of persons with different disabilities, should be provided.
  • Parent groups and organizations of persons with disabilities should be involved in the education process at all levels.
  • In States where education is compulsory it should be provided to girls and boys with all kinds and all levels of disabilities, including the most severe.
  • Special attention should be given in the following areas:

    • Very young children with disabilities;
    • Pre-school children with disabilities;
    • Adults with disabilities, particularly women.
  • To accommodate educational provisions for persons with disabilities in the mainstream, States should:

    • Have a clearly stated policy, understood and accepted at the school level and by the wider community;
    • Allow for curriculum flexibility, addition and adaptation;
    • Provide for quality materials, ongoing teacher training and support teachers.
  • Integrated education and community-based programmes
    should be seen as complementary approaches in providing cost-effective education and training for persons with disabilities. National community-based programmes should encourage communities to use and develop their resources to provide local education to persons with disabilities.
  • In situations where the general school system does not yet adequately meet the needs of all persons with disabilities, special education may be considered. It should be aimed at preparing students for education in the general school system. The quality of such education should reflect the same standards and ambitions as general education and should be closely linked to it. At a minimum, students with disabilities should be afforded the same portion of educational resources as students without disabilities. States should aim for the gradual integration of special education services into mainstream education. It is acknowledged that in some instances special education may currently be considered to be the most appropriate form of education for some students with disabilities.
  • Owing to the particular communication needs of deaf and deaf/blind persons, their education may be more suitably provided in schools for such persons or special classes and units in mainstream schools. At the initial stage, in particular, special attention needs to be focused on culturally sensitive instruction that will result in effective communication skills and maximum independence for people who are deaf or deaf/blind.

Rule 7. Employment

States should recognize the principle that persons with disabilities must be empowered to exercise their human rights, particularly in the field of employment. In both rural and urban areas they must have equal opportunities for productive and gainful employment in the labour market.

  • Laws and regulations in the employment field must not discriminate against persons with disabilities and must not raise obstacles to their employment.
  • States should actively support the integration of persons with disabilities into open employment. This active support could occur through a variety of measures, such as vocational training, incentive-oriented quota schemes, reserved or designated employment, loans or grants for small business, exclusive contracts or priority production rights, tax concessions, contract compliance or other technical or financial
    assistance to enterprises employing workers with disabilities. States should also encourage employers to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate persons with disabilities.
  • States' action programmes should include:

    • Measures to design and adapt workplaces and work premises in such a way that they become accessible to persons with different disabilities;
    • Support for the use of new technologies and the development and production of assistive devices, tools and equipment and measures to facilitate access to such devices and equipment for persons with disabilities to enable them to gain and maintain employment;
    • Provision of appropriate training and placement and ongoing support such as personal assistance and interpreter services.
  • States should initiate and support public awareness-raising campaigns designed to overcome negative attitudes and prejudices concerning workers with disabilities.
  • In their capacity as employers, States should create favourable conditions for the employment of persons with disabilities in the public sector.
  • States, workers' organizations and employers should cooperate to ensure equitable recruitment and promotion policies, employment conditions, rate of pay, measures to improve the work environment in order to prevent injuries and impairments and measures for the rehabilitation of employees who have sustained employment-related injuries.
  • The aim should always be for persons with disabilities to obtain employment in the open labour market. For persons with disabilities whose needs cannot be met in open employment, small units of sheltered or supported employment may be an alternative. It is important that the quality of such programmes be assessed in terms of their relevance and sufficiency in providing opportunities for persons with disabilities to gain employment in the labour market.
  • Measures should be taken to include persons with disabilities in training and employment programmes in the private and informal sectors.
  • States, workers' organizations and employers should cooperate with organizations of persons with disabilities concerning all measures to create training and employment opportunities, including flexible hours, part-time work, job-sharing, self-employment and attendant care for persons with disabilities.

Rule 8. Income maintenance and social security

States are responsible for the provision of social security and income maintenance for persons with disabilities.

  • States should ensure the provision of adequate income support to persons with disabilities who, owing to disability or disability-related factors, have temporarily lost or received a reduction in their income or have been denied employment opportunities. States should ensure that the provision of support takes into account the costs frequently incurred by persons with disabilities and their families as a result of the disability.
  • In countries where social security, social insurance or other social welfare schemes exist or are being developed for the general population, States should ensure that such systems do not exclude or discriminate against persons with disabilities.
  • States should also ensure the provision of income support and social security protection to individuals who undertake the care of a person with a disability.
  • Social security systems should include incentives to restore the income-earning capacity of persons with disabilities. Such systems should provide or contribute to the organization, development and financing of vocational training. They should also assist with placement services.
  • Social security programmes should also provide incentives for persons with disabilities to seek employment in order to establish or re-establish their income-earning capacity.
  • Income support should be maintained as long as the disabling conditions remain in a manner that does not discourage persons with disabilities from seeking employment. It should only be reduced or terminated when persons with disabilities achieve adequate and secure income.
  • States, in countries where social security is to a large extent provided by the private sector, should encourage local communities, welfare organizations and families to develop self-help measures and incentives for employment or employment-related activities for persons with disabilities.

UN World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons, 1982



At least 10 per cent of children are disabled. They have the same right to education as non-disabled persons and they require active intervention and specialized services. But most disabled children in developing countries receive neither specialized services nor compulsory education.

There is a great variation from some countries with a high educational level for disabled persons to countries where such facilities are limited or non-existent.

INDIA: Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995

Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995

Read the Act:

Read Relevant Sections in the Act Pertaining to Education of People with Disabilities on NCPEDP website:

Read relevant Court Cases on NCPEDP website:

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