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UN Programme on Disability   Working for full participation and equality

Implementation of the
World Programme of Action
concerning Disabled Persons

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IV. Other priority topics

A. Children with disabilities

The question of children with disabilities was considered by the Commission for Social Development at its thirty-fifth session. Recommendations for action were endorsed by the Economic and Social Council in resolution 1997/20. As follow-up to the resolution, the Division for Social Policy and Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Secretariat, participates in activities of the open-ended International Working Group on Disability and Development. The Working Group provides a forum for international organizations, international non-governmental organizations, bilateral development cooperation agencies and national technical departments and ministries to exchange views and to plan joint actions. Among its current activities, the Group is formulating a strategy for information dissemination by interested members among the constituencies concerned with the social and economic situation of children and young adults with disabilities. At the last meeting of the Working Group, held at Washington, D.C., in September 1998, the consultant to the World Bank on disability policies, Dr. Robert L. Metts, presented a review of social and economic aspects of disability and outlined ways in which the World Bank could assist countries, on request, to increase participation in development by persons with disabilities.

In August 1998 the Ministry of Health of the Government of Armenia organized an Interministerial International Conference on Childhood Disability (Yerevan, 17–18 August 1998) which brought together international specialists in the field, representatives of concerned international organizations, the Special Rapporteur on Disability of the Commission for Social Development, Mr. Bengt Lindqvist, and national specialists. The Conference provided a policy-level forum for a comprehensive and integrated review and discussion of the situation of children with disabilities.

B. Assistive technologies: the case of wheeled mobility

Since the design, testing and evaluation and dissemination of assistive technologies are major factors in promoting environmental accessibility for all, during the period under review, the Division for Social Policy and Development cooperated with Whirlwind Wheelchair International (School of Engineering, San Francisco State University (United States) in the organization and conduct of comparative studies and technical exchanges on national capacity-building for wheeled mobility. The data available according to the Whirlwind Wheelchair International suggest a need for 20,000,000 wheeled mobility devices by the year 2020 to meet the projected needs of persons with disabilities in developing countries, and the estimated resources for this task are US$ 4 billion. The cooperative study and informal exchanges identified three factors that influence action to promote accessibility and mobility for all:

(a) An institutional setting for mobility and accessibility, which provides policy priorities and options for plans, programmes and budgets;

(b) A resource framework for mobility and accessibility, which includes both financial resources for investments to develop both human potential and social infrastructure and technical and managerial resources needed to translate policy intent into practical, sustained and effective action;

(c) A coordination framework, which facilitates coherence between policy intent and action by the various institutions of society and provides mechanisms for dialogue among the parties concerned.

As part of the follow-up to the cooperative study, Whirlwind Women of the Whirlwind Wheelchair International organized a training workshop on wheeled mobility and women with disabilities, in cooperation with the Ministry of Gender and Community Development of the Government of Uganda. The workshop was co-financed by a grant from the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability. Other initiatives in wheeled mobility, assisted by the Fund, are currently under way in Ecuador and Guyana.

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United Nations, 2003-04
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Division for Social Policy and Development