Applying the World Report on Disability to children's communication

Sharynne Mcleod*, Lindy Mcallister, Jane Mccormack, Linda J. Harrison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The World Report on Disability is an important milestone in the recognition of people with disabilities; however, the Report acknowledges that people with communication difficulties may be underrepresented in estimates of disability. Consequently, this article applies the nine recommendations from the World Report on Disability to supporting children's communication skills. Method: Australia is similar to most Minority World countries since it places high regard on articulate and literate communication. Recent large-scale Australian studies of children with speech, language and communication needs were reviewed to determine prevalence, impact and associated environmental and personal factors. Studies of met and unmet need were reviewed and discussed in relation to legislation and policies. Results: Recent years have seen improvements in the collection of and access to disability data about children's communication, including the involvement of children in research about the impact of communication difficulties on their lives. The prevalence of speech and language impairment in children is high and is associated with poorer educational and social outcomes at school-age. Significant unmet need for services was noted, and there were differences in health, education and disability policies regarding access to services. Conclusions: Updated legislation, policies and practices are needed to more effectively support access to services to support children's communication across health, education and disability sectors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1518-1528
Number of pages11
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • communication
  • disability
  • ICF
  • ICF-CY
  • language
  • speech
  • World Health Organization
  • World Report on Disability


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