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Disability is a complex umbrella term with many culturally constructed meanings. The United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, defines disability as “long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder [a person’s] full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”. When applied in the context of children with disability, this definition refers to those who have an impairment (e.g. visual, hearing, intellectual, psychosocial, physical) which in combination with personal and environmental barriers (e.g. inaccessible buildings, stigma and negative attitudes, lack of assistive devices) restricts their full participation (e.g. in school, social life).

This definition draws heavily upon that proposed by Kyegombe, N., Banks, L.M. and Kelly, S. et al. (2019) in their publication entitled, How to conduct good quality research on violence against children with disabilities: Key ethical, measurement, and research principles, and published in BMC Public Health.

It should be noted that there has been an ongoing debate regarding the language used to refer to people and children with disability, with some advocating an identity-first approach (i.e., disabled children) and others a person-first approach (i.e., children with disability or children with disabilities), which is often the preference of self-advocates. These complexities are explored in the ERIC Case Study by Fathimath Shiraani. Throughout the ERIC Resources we use the term ‘children with disability’, however this does not necessarily reflect the preferred wording of all contributors.

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