Inclusion International


Promoting inclusion, equality and opportunity for people with intellectual disabilities and their families worldwide.

    "Over 40 years of advocacy and action has shaped Inclusion International into a leading vehicle through which people with intellectual disabilities and their families can express their demands, share their stories and participate in real social and systemic change. By doing this, Inclusion International has contributed to the promotion of diversity and peace. We promote a model of community inclusion which recognizes, respects and values all people with disabilities and their families around the world."
    Diane Richler, President
Inclusion International (II) is a network of over 200 family-based organizations, with national members in 115 countries worldwide, working to promote the social, cultural, economic, and political rights of people with intellectual disabilities. II is an assembly of the voices of persons with intellectual disabilities and their families that promotes shared values of respect, diversity, human rights, solidarity and inclusion to achieve a vision of a world where people with intellectual disabilities and their families can equally participate and be valued in all aspects of community life.

II is one of the largest international non-governmental organizations in the field of disability recognized by the United Nations. Through its national members, regional level organizations and global organization, II works with international agencies including the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Bank, United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and regional bodies to promote inclusive approaches to policy, practice and investment strategies.

II has helped the voices of people with disabilities and their families be heard for over 40 years. The inclusion of people with disabilities into their communities, as valued neighbours and citizens, is a priority for Inclusion International and its membership.

Inclusion International and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of persons with Disabilities

Negotiations around the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, were translated into a global effort resulting in all of II priorities being in the final text—inclusive education, supported decision-making, living in the community and the role of families.

During negotiations of the Convention II struggled to include issues that are of high importance for people with intellectual disability and their families, since these same issues are been addressed in the ratification and implementation processes in some countries here we present a video that shows some of the discussions that took place.

Inclusion International is developing a global campaign to promote the Convention as a tool for Promoting inclusive policy and practice and Eradicating Poverty and Exclusion. This campaign will include strategies and tools for members to use to raise awareness of state parties in the ratification process about the issues of people with intellectual disabilities; it will provide resources and knowledge to governments in their efforts to develop implementation strategies (For example, expertise in inclusive education: teacher training; curriculum adaptation etc.); it will develop, track and validate existing practices that promote inclusion (for example in the area of deinstitutionalization; what works and what doesn’t) and it will pilot good practices in key priority areas for people with intellectual disabilities and their families: inclusive education, self advocates and families, living in the community and legal capacity.

The Status of Inclusive Education Around the World

Children with disabilities remain among the most marginalized and excluded. The vast majority of these children have no access to Education.

    “Achieving the right to education is the foundation for building a truly inclusive society, where all people learn together and participate equally.

    Yet today, over 77 million children are not enrolled in school and more than 781 million adults are deprived of literacy. Such exclusion is particularly acute among persons with disabilities. About 97% of adults with disabilities do not have basic literacy skills. Estimates of the number of disabled children attending school in developing countries range from less than 1% to 5%. Disabled children count for over one-third of all out-of-school children. It is clear that we cannot achieve the Education for All Goals or the MDGs without taking into account the special needs of the estimated 650 million persons — 10% of the world’s population — with disabilities.

    In addition to those excluded from access to education, there are countless others marginalized within the school system. Here, educational aspirations are still oftentimes blocked by traditional models of learning that fail to respond to the needs of our rapidly changing world. Providing quality education for all remains one of the biggest development challenges of our time. Yet, with effective legislation and policies it is possible to build a world of inclusion. Awareness-raising will move us in that direction. (…). So we undertake both efforts — to raise awareness and to develop effective policies for a World for Inclusion. It is our shared responsibility to turn those dreams, those visions, that commitment into tangible reality”.

    Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, May 2007
The data confirms that inclusive education in the sense of including All children in education facilities/regular schools, as their brothers and sisters, with peers of their own age, that do not have a disability, and with the needed supports to achieve their potential is not widespread worldwide, although there are good examples to be found in many countries.

In some parts of the world children with disability have been systemically and systematically excluded from attending any education.
In Uganda for their parents’ organization UPACLED (Uganda Parents of Children with Learning Disability) taking their kids out of their homes into a segregated school is their first step towards education and INCLUSION.

In other countries successful stories of good inclusive education practices for children with disability highlight the directions in which policies and practices must evolve in order to achieve the commitments set out in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

In order to comply with the CRPD state parties will be required to both remove legislative and constitutional barriers to the inclusion of children with disabilities in the education system of the country and implement legislative reform that creates positive commitments to ensure that children with disabilities have access to education and that the supports and adaptations required are made available.

There is a global need for equality of opportunity for all children with disabilities, this will require an end to the system which prevails in many countries, whereby responsibility for the education of children with disabilities falls to ministries of social affairs or health. This serves to exclude children with disabilities from access to the education system. In order to ensure that one Ministry is responsible for the education of all children, legislation should be amended so that The Ministry of Education is responsible for the education of all children.

Inclusive Education means that the regular school system, with due support, is trusted to provide a good education to all pupils irrespective of their varying abilities.

Ensuring access to education

National legislation and constitutional provisions related to education should recognize and include provisions that explicitly recognize responsibility to provide education to All children within the regular education system including children with disabilities.

In order to create the overarching framework in which the right to education is assured for children with disabilities, States need to introduce legislation to:
  • Ensure a constitutional guarantee of free and compulsory basic education to all children
  • Warranty that children with disability are registered at birth
  • Repeal any existing legislation which defines any group of children with disabilities as ‘ineducable’
  • Ensure that legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment is adopted and enforced. This will enable students with disabilities to become teachers.
  • Amend legislation, where necessary to ensure that the Ministry of Education is responsible for the provision of all education, including the early years (0-5)
  • Establish the right to early identification and assessment to ensure that children with disabilities are able to acquire the educational support and services they need from the earliest possible age
  • Require school buildings and materials to be accessible to children with disabilities
  • Ensure provision of accessible transport for children with disabilities
  • Develop accountability mechanisms needed to monitor school registration and completion by children with disabilities. States should adopt and revise reporting mechanisms to disaggregate data on school participation

Ensuring quality and inclusive education

In order to promote inclusive quality education for every child, including children with disabilities, legislation will be needed to develop a school system for all. This will require measures to ensure that one school system is responsible for the education of all children. Legislation will be needed to achieve:
  • An explicit definition of inclusion in terms of the necessary training, support, policies, resources and facilities to enable children with disabilities to realise an effective education in an inclusive environment
  • Allocating financial resources for accommodation and supports of students with disabilities within the education system
  • Opportunities for children with disabilities to learn life and social development skills to facilitate full and equal participation in education including:
    • learning of Braille, alternative script, augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication and orientation and mobility skills
    • peer support and mentoring
    • learning of sign language
  • Providing pre-service and in-service training to teachers so that they can respond to diversity in the classroom
  • Adaptation of teacher training syllabuses to include inclusive training methodologies
  • Revision national curriculum to become accessible to all students and that it be consistent and flexible to all students
  • Revision of testing methods to ensure that accommodation is made for students with disabilities
  • Inclusion of human rights education within both the taught school curriculum, and the ethos of schools, to promote greater respect for the rights of every child, including children with disabilities
  • School buildings and materials that are accessible to children with disabilities
  • Ensure that all forms of accessible communication and social  development are guaranteed to students with sensory disabilities

What is II doing to Promote INCLUSIVE EDUCATION?

The United Nation Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) promotes the goal of full inclusion and guarantees the right of every child to attend the regular school with the supports they require.

Inclusion International promotes the rights outlined in the CRPD as the basis for the full development of the person and as a means to enable the person to participate effectively in society. Inclusion International believes that all persons with disability should be able to choose inclusive education in their own community.

Inclusive education requires that schools are supported to welcome all students with adaptations made for all special needs.

Inclusion international believes that effective inclusive education requires the regular school system to respect the principles of:
  • Non-discrimination
  • Accessibility
  • Accommodation to specific needs through flexible and alternative approaches to learning and teaching
  • Equality of standards
  • Participation
  • Support for meeting disability-related needs
  • Relevance to preparation for the labour market


Inclusion International supports UNESCO’s definition of Inclusive Education as “a process of addressing and responding to the diversity of needs of all learners through inclusive practices in learning, cultures and communities and reducing exclusion within and from education. It involves changes and modifications in content approaches structures and strategies, with a common vision which covers all children of the appropriate age range and a conviction that it is the responsibility of the regular system to educate all children.” (UNESCO, Guidelines for Inclusion: Ensuring Access for All)

UNESCO and the OECD have also determined that inclusion is the preferred approach to providing schooling for students with special needs. Conditions required to allow for successful inclusion are also those that contribute to overall school improvement and high levels of achievement for all children.


Inclusion International will work to promote the goal of full inclusion by advocating for:

  • Progressive development of inclusive education
  • Ensuring that one Ministry is responsible for the education of all children
  • Teacher training to ensure that individual needs are met in inclusive settings
  • Support to families
  • Inclusive education policy development

Promoting & Validating Models and Practices in Including People with Intellectual Disabilities and their families in the UN Convention

Inclusion International is building strategies and initiatives that contribute to the eradication of poverty and exclusion faced by people with intellectual disabilities and their families by strengthening the capacity of family based organizations and networks to use the new UN Convention as an instrument for building inclusive practices in Inclusion International’s priority area of Inclusive Education.

Seeking to reduce the exclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and their families by using the Convention as an instrument for building inclusive policies and practices.

Our Objectives are:
  • Identify and create a resource base of existing good practices in inclusive education;
  • Provide family based organizations with training and knowledge to implement pilot projects on inclusive practices in partnership with their governments in key priority areas;
  • Assist governments to develop knowledge, policy and practice that promotes inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in Convention implementation;
  • Influence national and international development policy and investments to promote inclusion by sharing local experiences
Our Strategies are:
  • Identify good practices and knowledge in inclusive policy in: Inclusive Education
  • Country Pilot Models of inclusion in education
  • Established global knowledge networks on inclusive education
  • Develop standards of good practice in inclusive education
  • Follow a pilot initiative: http://inclusioneducativacolombia.wetpaint.com/?mail=1201

Generating and sharing knowledge in Inclusive Education

Inclusive Education is one of the priority areas for Inclusion International’s work

Inclusion International
  • Promotes the full participation of persons with disabilities and families in the development of policies and guidelines related to the education of persons with disabilities at local, national, regional, and global levels.
  • Seeks to ensure that all governmental entities, donors, and NGOs endorse the universal right to education for all children, youth and adults with a disability.
  • Act as a catalyst to fully incorporate the Flagship Goal into national plans of action and regional policies.
  • Promotes the right of every child and youth with a disability to express his/her view pertaining to his/her education and life skills.
II participates in the Inclusive Education initiatives and forums of International Agencies such as the United Nations, the World Bank, and UNESCO. At the present time is actively involved in the UNESCO flagship on Education for All (EFA) formed by an alliance of diverse organizations, including global disability organizations, international development agencies, intergovernmental agencies, and experts in fields of special and inclusive education.

II is also a member of the Global Campaign For Education and has for several years tried to raise awareness about the systematic exclusion of children with disabilities from education.

With our member organizations II is an active participant in Forums in their regions on Inclusive Education.

Some of our members as part of forums, conferences and workshops around the world:

In 2004 a study with the World Bank in Central America gave the report that can be consulted in Educación Inclusiva en Latinoamérica y el Caribe Diagnóstico Actual y Desafíos para el Futuro Banco Mundial 2006 Ismael García Cedillo http://www.inclusioneducativa.org/content/documents/information_sobre_LAC_interes.doc

For each of the participating countries you can see the report as follows

EL SALVADOR http://www.inclusioneducativa.org/content/documents/El_Salvador_interes.doc
COSTA RICA http://www.inclusioneducativa.org/content/documents/Costa_Rica_interes.doc
GUATEMALA http://www.inclusioneducativa.org/content/documents/Guatemala_interes.doc
HONDURAS http://www.inclusioneducativa.org/content/documents/Honduras_interes.doc
NICARAGUA http://www.inclusioneducativa.org/content/documents/Nicaragua_interes.doc
PANAMA http://www.inclusioneducativa.org/content/documents/Panama_interes.doc

With Inclusion Inter Americana and the World Bank 2004 international and local events so we can all construct better ways of implementing the how to achieve Inclusive Education for All and direct Inclusion International on how to deal Inclusive Education as a priority issues Diane Richler, II council members, Inclusion International member organizations in the 5 regions promote Inclusive Education around the globe participating as speakers in forums around the world.
  • Diane Richler President of II was invited as a speaker at the UNESCO INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON EDUCATION “INCLUSIVE EDUCATION: THE WAY OF THE FUTURE” Forty-eighth session in Geneva 25-28 November 2008
  • II was invited to present at the EXHIBITION UNESCO INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON EDUCATION “INCLUSIVE EDUCATION: THE WAY OF THE FUTURE”. Set to provide multiple evidences that Inclusive Education can actually work in different contexts, that in fact it is a process of achieving quality education for all and that the showcased effective practices are good references to help countries address the issue of social inclusion and inclusive education, and could be replicated”
Our members have created Web sites on Inclusive Education:

Creating Opportunities for sharing knowledge between countries using the United Nations Convention as a Tool

As the UN Convention comes into effect and Inclusion International members around the world become engaged in the implementation of the Convention in their own countries, real challenges will emerge in: understanding the implications of the Convention; developing public policy and practices to comply with the Convention.
Inclusion International is launching a Convention Implementation Resource Group on Inclusive Education as part of the implementation strategy for the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

As innovative initiatives are developed knowledge and learning will be created about effective strategies for inclusion. In order to both inform the development of policy and practice and to gain understanding of the challenges and learning, the Convention Implementation Resource Group will:
  • Develop a resource base of tools for family based organizations to use at the country level in promoting the implementation of the Convention;
  • Act as a technical support to member organizations working at a country level with governments on implementation;
  • Collect information and stories about the challenges and success of implementation;
  • Provide analysis of the experiences related to implementation that may be used by family organizations; governments or multilateral institutions
  • Support the implementation of II projects or member organizations projects
  • Implementation Resource groups will include individuals and organizations working in inclusive education from every region of the world.

The Future

In the continuum effort of spreading the knowledge in the next years II will host several events; implement projects and work in building knowledge in Inclusive Education
  • GLOBAL FORUM FOR INCLUSION 2008: Transforming Rights into Action. Ottawa 17-26 Nov 2008.
The Forum will engage self-advocates, families, activists, professionals and partners from around the world. Focused on the new UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, it will look at how to transform rights into actions that lead to full inclusion and citizenship for people with intellectual disabilities.
  • Global Conference on Inclusive Education in Salamanca in November 2009 where we will mark the 15th anniversary of The Salamanca Statement, adopted by the World Conference on Special Needs Education: Access and Quality convened by UNESCO in Salamanca, Spain, June 7-10,1994;
  • 15 World Congress of Inclusion International Berlin, Germany 16 – 19 June 2010 Inclusion for All!
    The worldwide movement of Inclusion International meets
    Organized by Inclusion Europe and the German National Association Lebenshilfe for People with Intellectual Disabilities