Convention on the rights of the child
Adopted by General Assembly of the United Nations on 20 November 1989, entry into force 2 September 1990.
It was signed by all UN-member states, but not ratified by three non-European countries, among which the U.S. The Obama-administration has called this ‘an embarrassment’ and has announced the intention to rectify this.
The U.S. played an important role in the drafting of this convention; much of the content was drawn from the American Constitution. As long as it’s not ratified it’s questionable which legal consequences it has for American education. Possibly part 3 of this convention – which seems to matter most in this context – is already covered by the U.S. Bill of Rights.
The full text of Article 23:
“1. States Parties recognize that a mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child’s active participation in the community.
2. States Parties recognize the right of the disabled child to special care and shall encourage and ensure the extension, subject to available resources, to the eligible child and those responsible for his or her care, of assistance for which application is made and which is appropriate to the child’s condition and to the circumstances of the parents or others caring for the child.
3. Recognizing the special needs of a disabled child, assistance extended in accordance with paragraph 2 of the present article shall be provided free of charge, whenever possible, taking into account the financial resources of the parents or others caring for the child, and shall be designed to ensure that the disabled child has effective access to and receives education, training, health care services, rehabilitation services, preparation for employment and recreation opportunities in a manner conducive to the child’s achieving the fullest possible social integration and individual development, including his or her cultural and spiritual development.
4. States Parties shall promote, in the spirit of international cooperation, the exchange of appropriate information in the field of preventive health care and of medical, psychological and functional treatment of disabled children, including dissemination of and access to information concerning methods of rehabilitation, education and vocational services, with the aim of enabling States Parties to improve their capabilities and skills and to widen their experience in these areas. In this regard, particular account shall be taken of the needs of developing countries.”
For further reading, see Wikipedia. ‘First Focus‘, a bipartisan advocacy organization, suggests taking examples from the way other coutries deal with this.