Public Defender Establishes Discrimination against Child with Disability in Non-Formal Education

On December 21, 2021, the Public Defender addressed the Director of Art Time Studio Ltd with a recommendation regarding the non-fulfillment of the obligation of reasonable accommodation in relation to a child with disability.

In March 2021, a mother brought her child with Down Syndrome to a creative studio for a non-formal education. According to the child’s psychologist, painting, sculpting and engaging in similar activities would help the child better develop social skills. On the second day after being involved in the education process, the institution refused to work with the child, citing the child’s difficult behavior as the reason.

The applicant submitted to the Public Defender an assessment made by specialists working with the child as well as an employee of another creative institution, stating that the child’s behavior was not harmful to others or self-harming.

After analyzing the parties' positions and legal standards, the Public Defender considered that the institution did not consider the possibility of modifying the learning process or appropriate alternatives in accordance with the principle of reasonable accommodation, which would have assisted the parent in the process of helping the child adapt to the environment – by allowing the parent to attend lessons together with the employees of the institution for some time and help the child engage in the activities. The institution did not consider having consultation with the child’s psychologist either.

The recommendation emphasized the special importance of non-formal education in inclusive education, as its flexible and context-oriented conditions can better respond to the needs of persons with disabilities. Institutions that take responsibility for creating non-formal learning spaces for adolescents are required to correctly identify the needs of all children with disabilities and tailor the services offered to their individual needs.

As a result, the Public Defender called on the Director of Art Time Studio Ltd:

  • In the future, when carrying out its activity, to take into account the different needs of the recipients of the services offered and to provide the services in such a way that all children have the opportunity to enjoy the services on an equal basis with others;
  • To raise teachers' professional knowledge in the management of the behavior of children with disabilities.
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