Discovering the barriers that stop children with disabilities from being children: the impact of lack of access to mobility devices - a human rights persective

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South African Journal of Occupational Therapy

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University of Cape Town

In most research projects there is a tendency not to consult young disabled children about their priorities and experiences. Their needs and aspirations are pre-empted through service providers. Furthermore, there is little research about how resilient young disabled children are in dealing with or overcoming the barriers in their daily lives due to inadequate provision of mobility devices. Therefore, this study undertook to explore and describe the perceptions and experiences of a sample of children with mobility impairments from disadvantaged backgrounds with regard to the impact of lack of access to mobility devices on their lives. From 1998-2000 in a qualitative study, a case study design was used as a method of inquiry to explore the experiences and perceptions of disabled children at a special school in a township in Cape Town in the Western Cape Province, South Africa with regard to the impact of inadequate provision of mobility devices on their lives. Analysis of the stories of disabled children revealed that without adequate mobility devices they were deprived of their right to development, education, play and social interaction as well as adequate health and rehabilitation services. The stories told by disabled children, their caregivers and therapists reflected the contradictory messages sent to disabled children about service delivery. Recommendations were related to the urgent need for transformation in the provision of mobility devices, based on the needs of disabled children.