Assistive Technology and Children’s Rights

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), adopted in 2006, established the rights and fundamental freedoms of persons with disabilities. CRPD is a benchmark document recognizing that persons with disabilities are persons with rights, able to make decisions about their own lives (even if requiring support to do so) and of being active members of the society. Particularly for children with disabilities, its Article 7 obliges States Parties to take all necessary measures to ensure children with disabilities can enjoy all the same human rights as any other child. This means that the rights enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) are also rights of children with disabilities.

For many children with disabilities, enjoying the rights and fundamental freedoms set forth in CRPD and CRC is only possible through the use of Assistive Technology (AT). For example, enjoyment of the right to play (CRPD Article 30, CRC Article 31) may require using a wheelchair to move within an accessible playground with adapted equipment and a modified sand tool that enables playing with the sand while sitting in the wheelchair. In order to exercise the right to freedom of expression and opinion (CRPD Article 7, CRC Article 12), an augmentative and alternative communication device incorporating the necessary vocabulary may be needed. From this perspective, Assistive Technology is a rights-enabler.

CRPD recognizes the importance of AT setting as a general obligation of signatories to undertake research, development and promote the availability of Assistive Technologies (Article 4) and by referring to the Assistive Technologies that may be required to ensure/realise the enjoyment of the enshrined rights in several of its articles. It may thus be argued that CRPD also establishes the right to AT.

A complementary perspective on AT and children’s rights is that AT service delivery should respect children’s rights. For example, when assessing children for AT, the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration (CRPD Article 7, CRC Article 3) and children should be given the opportunity (and the means) to express their views freely (CRPD Article 7, CRC Article 12). A child-centred AT service delivery process should thus be followed.

In the Special Thematic Session on “Assistive Technology and Children’s Rights” we welcome presentations addressing the different links between AT and children’s rights. Topics include, but are not limited to,

  • Research and development of AT that may enable children’s rights;
  • Disability Studies as a model of critical inquiry into the role of AT in the lives of children with disabilities;
  • Children’s rights and ethical issues in AT service delivery;
  • Child-centred co-design of Assistive Technologies;
  • Innovative ideas on how to include children’s voice in all phases of AT service delivery (assessment, fitting, follow-up and outcomes evaluation);
  • AT personnel training to serve children with disabilities;
  • Children’s perspectives on global initiatives on AT.

The session is organised and promoted by:

Católica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics, Universidade Católica Portuguesa

Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta

Centre for Disability Studies and School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds



  • Pedro Encarnação, Católica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics, Universidade Católica Portuguesa

  • Al Cook, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta

  • Angharad Beckett, Centre for Disability Studies and School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds

Contributions to a STS have to be submitted using the standard submission procedures of ICCHP-AAATE.
When submitting your contribution please make sure to select the right STS from the drop-down list "Special Thematic Session". Contributions to a STS are evaluated by the Programme Committee of ICCHP-AAATE and by the chair(s) of the STS. Please get in contact with the STS chair(s) for discussing your contribution and potential involvement in the session. Submission Deadlines for Contributions to STSs: February, 6, 2022 for publishing in Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science, March 3, 2022 for publishing in the Open Access Compendium.