The Innocent Research Report launched jointly by the Centre for Independent Living and UNICEF-Bulgaria on May 31st 2006 focuses on the situation of children with disabilities in Central and Eastern Europe and CIS countries that are segregated in institutions and special educational facilities as well as suggest policy recommendations.

For decades, vast numbers of children with disabilities have been placed in institutions and this practice has continued during the post-Soviet transition period. By 2002, some 317,000 children with disabilities were living in residential institutions. Cut off from their families and community from an early age, often segregated in large facilities and special schools, the prospect for these children is to graduate to an institution for adults and to face a pattern of denial of human rights.

The report finds that, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the numbers of children with disabilities in Central and Eastern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent Sates and Baltic States (CEE/CIS) have dramatically increased and explores the causes of this increase from about 500,000 in 1990 to 1.5 million in 2000.

It focuses on the need to set a framework for inclusive societies, allowing children with disabilities to live within their family and to develop their skills through an adapted educational system and structural conditions. It also emphasizes on the problems of institutionalizing children with disabilities, which causes their permanent exclusion from society.

The recommendations contained in the report urge for a shift from a “disability as invalidity approach” to an approach enhancing diversity and aimed at creating a social and physical environment including every human being without any discrimination.

For more information and details, you can download the report in English here.