Tool to help ensure children with disabilities aren’t forgotten

cbm uk logoA new tool launched on 15th April will help identify children with disabilities in low- and middle-income countries and ensure they get the support they need. The free resource was developed by researchers at the International Centre for Evidence in Disability at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, with funding and technical support from CBM. It provides an evidence-based guide and materials to identify children in an affordable and reliable way using community volunteers.

Many children with epilepsy or physical, sensory and intellectual impairments do not receive the support they need because their needs are not identified. Due to the relatively low prevalence of childhood disability, approaches to survey the population in order to identify children are rare. Children, who go without appropriate support, are more likely to experience serious illness and are less likely to go to school, with long-lasting negative impact on their lives.

This new resource, Using the Key Informant Method: A Working Guide, provides comprehensive support for policy makers, service providers and NGOs on how to train community volunteers and use an approach known as the Key Informant Method.

The method uses trained volunteers within the local community to simultaneously collect data on child disability, link children with disabilities to services and build evidence to advocate for inclusion of children with disabilities in their societies. The approach is up to ten times lower cost than surveys of the same size and has already been successfully tested in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malawi and Kenya.

CBM Research Manager, Christiane Noe, said, “CBM’s investment and engagement in developing and improving an effective and affordable method to identify children with disabilities in partnership with the ICED at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has contributed to this valuable guide to use and promote the Key Informant Method in other settings as well. By identifying not only the number of children with impairments in a community or district but also the disabling barriers for them to access services and to participate in society through a community-based approach improves both the planning and implementation of services and also promotes the awareness about disability and inclusion in society.”

Author of the guide, Islay Mactaggart, Research Fellow in Disability and Global Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said, “The Key Informant Method provides programme leaders, disability advocates and other researchers with a low-cost and reliable way of identifying children with disabilities in any context. This guide represents the sum of our learning so far on how to get the most from this approach and we hope it will improve the ability of organisations to collect data on disability in children and use this to meet their needs and inform policy making and programme planning.”

Previous research from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Plan International found children with disabilities are 10 times less likely to attend school than children without disabilities. Even when children with disabilities do access education, they often fall behind their peers. Children with disabilities are also more likely to have experienced a serious illness in the last 12 months than children without disabilities, and on some instances are less likely to have received treatment for their illness.

Using the Key Informant Method: A Working Guide includes training materials and timetables, data collection forms and protocols for working with children and identifying childhood disability. It is available online at

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